Illinois Republican Chief Out After Backing Gay Marriage

The chairman of the Illinois Republican Party resigned today, four months after angering conservatives by supporting gay marriage.

The exit of Pat Brady, who had served in the post since 2009, had been expected after he narrowly survived an effort by party officials to oust him in March. His departure comes as the Illinois House of Representatives considers a Senate-passed bill to legalize gay marriage and make the state the first in the Midwest to endorse same-sex unions with a legislative vote.

Brady said in January he was putting his “full support” behind the bill, saying it “strengthens families and reinforces a key Republican value -- that the law should treat all citizens equally.”

The view put Brady at odds with the party’s platform that said marriage should be between a man and a woman only. His statement, which he described as a personal position, provoked an immediate response from gay-marriage opponents, including the National Organization for Marriage, which pledged to defeat any Republican legislator voting for such a law. The group also called Brady “unfit” to continue as chairman.

In his letter of resignation to the party’s State Central Committee, Brady didn’t mention gay marriage. He said it was “an honor and a privilege” to lead the party.

Rhode Island became the 10th U.S. state and the final one in New England to make gay weddings legal, after its House of Representatives passed a bill May 3 expanding marriage rights to homosexuals. Governor Lincoln Chafee, a 60-year-old Republican-turned-independent, had pushed the change since taking office in 2011.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has promised to sign the gay marriage bill if the House sends it to him.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tim Jones in Chicago at Tjones58@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net

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