As the national Republican Party struggles to figure out how to position itself after President Obama's re-election, the GOP state chairman in Illinois is pushing lawmakers there to legalize same-sex marriage.
It's time, said Pat Brady, the chairman.
"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 said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "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."
Illinois legalized civil unions between same-sex couples in 2011, though only one Republican lawmaker voted for it. Supporters hope to have a vote on gay marriage in Springfield before Jan. 9, when the current legislative term expires.
There is plenty of resistance. The National Organization of Marriage, which campaigns for traditional heterosexual marriage, vowed to help field primary challengers against any Illinois Republican lawmaker who votes to approve same-sex marriage.
“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,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “We will spend whatever it takes – hundreds of thousands of dollars if necessary – to remove them from office, just as we did three of the four turncoat Republican state Senators in New York who were responsible for gay ‘marriage’ passing there. We will not hesitate to support pro-family Democrats to replace them, as our record in New York proves.”
Four Republican state senators who changed their minds on the issue were crucial in New York's approval of same-sex marriage in 2011. Opponents targeted them for defeat, and three of them lost last November.
With polls showing that GOP lost heavily among young voters in November's presidential election, some in the party are urging a liberalization of its approach to gay marriage.