Brady: GOP “on the wrong side of history” on same-sex marriage

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Republican Chairman Pat Brady, who personally lobbied for legalized same-sex marriage but saw it pass the state Senate Thursday with only one GOP vote, says his party is “on the wrong side of history.”

“I think there was a lot more support than could actually vote for it,” said Brady, of St. Charles, who said he respects the senators’ decisions on the issue.

“I understand people have to vote their districts,” he said.

Brady doesn’t think Thursday’s vote means anything to his political future, as he’s already survived an attempt by state Sen. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove to oust him over the issue, as well as calls by prominent downstate Republican leaders that he step down.

In January, Brady made phone calls to Republican lawmakers seeking their support for gay marriage, a move he says he made outside of his official duties as party leader.

Despite Brady’s calls, only one Republican, state Sen. Jason Barickman of Bloomington, voted “yes.”

Oberweis said he still thinks other Republican party leaders should talk to Brady, giving him a chance to change his message or finding a new chairman if Brady does not change.

“I think it’s very much on the table,” Oberweis said.

On Thursday, suburban Republicans emphasized their concern that the legislation would require some facilities owned by religious institutions like schools and hospitals to allow gay marriage ceremonies.

State Sen. Dan Duffy, a Lake Barrington Republican, called the vote on same-sex marriage a “distraction” from Illinois’ financial troubles.

Brady doesn’t know how House Republicans will vote when they take up the bill, possibly as soon as next week.

“I think a lot of people are trying to figure out what to do,” Brady said.

In 2010, four suburban House Republicans voted for civil unions, but none are in the legislature anymore. Mark Beaubien of Barrington Hills died in summer 2011. Rosemary Mulligan of Des Plaines and Angelo “Skip” Saviano of Elmwood Park failed re-election bids last year. And Suzanne Bassi of Palatine lost a 2010 primary bid to state Rep. Tom Morrison, a Palatine Republican.

The flap over Brady’s views on same-sex marriage emphasizes a divide in the GOP over some social issues, but he points out Democrats weren’t united on the issue, either.

While all suburban Democratic senators voted to legalize same-sex marriage, several downstate and Chicago lawmakers either voted against it or didn’t vote at all. And that’s as their party leader and the Illinois Senate’s most famous alumnus, President Barack Obama, has advocated for legalized same-sex marriage.

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