Illinois GOP Chair in Hot Water After Backing Gay Marriage Bill

The chairman of the Illinois Republican Party has found himself embroiled in controversy after encouraging lawmakers to pass a same-sex marriage bill.

Party leaders say the problem is that Brady didn't consult his fellow party officers or executive committee members, prompting some to call for his resignation. But so far, Brady has remained steadfast in his decision to stay put.

"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," he said in a statement.

The controversy took center stage during the final days of the legislature's lame-duck session. Democrats saw it as a chance to make Illinois the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage and began the process of ushering the bill through the state Senate. That's when Brady stepped in and encouraged lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to vote in favor of the bill.

"More and more Americans understand that if two people want to make a lifelong commitment to each other, government should not stand in their way," Brady told the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this month. "Giving gay and lesbian couples the freedom to get married honors the best conservative principles. It strengthens families and reinforces a key Republican value – that the law should treat all citizens equally."

However, Brady's actions not only set off a firestorm within this party, fellow Republicans also pointed out that his statements went against the Illinois GOP platform of only supporting traditional marriage between one man and one woman.

"Pat Brady is a total disgrace," said Bobbie Peterson, a Republican state central committeewoman from Beecher, Ill., according to WBEZ. "He's a pretty face for TV. He can speak well. Period. But what's coming out of his mouth is not what the Illinois Republican party is about."

What remains to be seen is if the state party executive committee will take any action to remove Brady or reprimand him for not receiving approval from the party prior to lobbying for the bill. "I don't know exactly what will happen but we have not met yet," said an executive committee member who asked not to be identified. "It's an issue I wish we were not having to deal with."

The party by-laws say a party chairman can be removed with a three-fifths majority of a "weighted vote," that is calculated based on how many people cast ballots in a committeeman's congressional district. WBEZ, a local news station, has reported that four committeemen have already called on Brady to resign, which is half of the votes required.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has pledged to spend $250,000 to oust any Republican lawmaker who votes to make Illinois the 10th state to legalize marriage equality.

"Any Republican in Illinois who betrays the cause of marriage will be casting a career-ending vote and will be held accountable to their constituents," Brian Brown, NOM president, threatened in a statement.

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