Illinois Republican party chairman refuses to resign over same-sex marriage support

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Chairman of the Republican Party (GOP) in the state of Illinois has rejected calls for him to resign for supporting same-sex marriage.

Earlier this month, Pat Brady said that same-sex marriage “honours the best conservative principles. It strengthens and reinforces a key Republican value – that the law should treat all citizens equally.”

In many ways his support echoed that of the British Prime Minister David Cameron who said “I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”

Just like the Conservative back-benchers in the UK who oppose David Cameron’s support for equality, Republican politicians have condemend Mr Brady’s support.

“I was shocked,” Republican State Senator Jim Oberweiss said: “Very surprised. Did not expect that and didn’t know why he would have done that.”

Republican State Senator Dave Syverson said: “His role as chairman should be to concentrate on uniting the party, and not dividing the party.”

On Friday, Mr Brady stood by his support saying: “If people want to throw me out because I took on an issue of discrimination [as] the chairman of the Republican Party, the party founded by Abraham Lincoln, then that’s – that’s up to them and they’re free to do it. But I’m not backing down.”

This week, UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party), a right-wing minor political party caused controversy by sacking the chairman of its youth wing for supporting same-sex marriage. It also forced a Parliamentary candidate to resign for saying that gay people should have the same rights as straight people.

The anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has offered $250,000 of funding to kick Republican politicians out of office who support same-sex marriage equality in Illinois.

On Thursday, the sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill, Democrat State Representative Greg Harris said that once the state’s new General Assembly was sworn in, the measure will be fast-tracked through the legislature.