For both Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady and McLean County GOP Chairman John Parrott, it’s a matter of principle.
Brady says Illinois should legalize same-sex marriage. Parrott says that position is wrong and contrary to the Republican platform, that Brady is alienating the party base and should be fired. And he will be, Parrott believes.
Brady went public with his support for marriage equality legislation last month in a joint statement with Ken Mehlmann, who headed George W. Bush’s re-election campaign and then chaired the National Republican Committee, rallying socially conservative voters with the GOP push for a ban on same-sex marriage.
Mehlmann also must have led the nation in antacid consumption because since then, he’s revealed he’s gay and seeks redemption by heading “Project Right Side,” a non-profit group dedicated to convincing conservatives they should support marriage equality.
That shouldn’t be hard, believes Brady, who is a cousin of State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington. Why wouldn’t conservatives support personal freedom and a limit on government’s role in our lives? What member of the party of Lincoln can condone discrimination?
Not so fast, says Parrott, once head of the Illinois Christian Coalition. Some things you can’t compromise on. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Families and our nation, he says, are weakened by anything different.
So Parrott is among those leading the charge to get Brady canned by the Republican State Central Committee. Parrott says anti-Brady sentiment is growing. But Brady says his critics are a long way from critical mass. Republicans can and should support equal rights for gays on principle, he says. Besides, it’s good politics.
Ah hah! Now we’re getting down to it.
GOP candidates fared so poorly last November — nationally, and especially in Illinois — that party leaders are falling over one another trying to move the party’s image closer to where voters are. If Illinois Republicans could put to rest social issues like immigration and gay rights, they might get voters to focus on their plans to fix the state’s fiscal mess, and on their positions related to taxes, jobs and other pocketbook issues.
With their overwhelming majorities in Springfield, Democrats will pass it anyway, so why not help marriage equality legislation become the law of Lincolnland?
Both Parrott and Brady can find support in GOP heritage. It was Lincoln who said, “Important principles may and must be inflexible.” But another renowned Central Illinois Republican, Everett Dirksen, put it this way: “I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times.”
This and That
Can’t imagine Illinois voters electing Lisa Madigan governor while her father, Mike, is still House speaker … ISU play-by-play guy Dick Luedke expects to be back behind the microphone when the men’s team plays Bradley again a week from Wednesday … Luedke had heart surgery Jan. 15 ... Ever buy a Lucky Day Lotto ticket at the Fifth Street Food Mart in Lincoln? ... someone who did last October still hasn’t claimed a $100,000 prize.