Vogel: Same-sex marriage issue causing split in Illinois GOP

2013-02-02T06:00:00Z Vogel: Same-sex marriage issue causing split in Illinois GOPSteve Vogel | vogelgraph@yahoo.com pantagraph.com
February 02, 2013 6:00 am  • 

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.

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(6) Comments

  1. bluefox3681
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    bluefox3681 - March 19, 2013 12:46 pm
    I am a young, conservative, typically bend Republican voter. The GOP has to modernize on this issue and will forced to either way. I have been in favor of same sex unions longer than Barrack Obama who just recently "evolved" on this issue.
  2. ChubbyAlaskaGriz
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    ChubbyAlaskaGriz - February 28, 2013 2:05 am
    I'm a 46 yr. old gay guy. It's been amazing to see history unfolding right before my eyes on this matter. The evolution has been interesting- to say the least. Coming out when I did at about 18 in 1984 was a risky- and in some circles- dangerous thing to do. Today? Largely, much different. Things still aren't perfect- but I dig seeing that those against gay equality are looking more and more every day like archaic dinosaurs.
  3. Eastsider
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    Eastsider - February 02, 2013 12:52 pm
    Parrot and the rest of the hard-core right are just as bad as those on the extreme left fringe. They are so ideologically blinded by their own perception of "right" and "wrong" that they can't see any potential for compromise. This is why republicans in Illinois are hopelessly caught in the minority. This is a center-right state, but until those on the far right learn to lose the occasional battle they will have no chance at ever winning the larger war over the role of government, the restraint of spending, and the return of business to our state. Pat Brady understands the "politics" of the situation and like a good leader and strategist has offered a moderated position in hopes of achieving larger and more meaningful gains (eg, retaking of Governor's mansion and the imposition of a conservative fiscal plan for Illinois.) Parrot needs to get with the bigger picture or get out of politics.
  4. Chuck Anziulewicz
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    Chuck Anziulewicz - February 02, 2013 12:29 pm
    The GOP may not “Go Gay” anytime soon … but sooner or later they’ll have to come to grips with the fact that vilifying Gay Americans is no longer a vote-getter for them. Back in 2009 a CBS News survey found that while only 18% of Americans over the age of 65 supported marriage equality for Gay couples, 41% of American under the age of 45 supported it. That was FOUR YEARS AGO, and the generational shift in attitudes among young people toward their Gay friends and family members is accelerating.

    Even conservative columnist Andrew Stuttaford grudgingly acknowledged this: “I fully understand (even if I do not agree with) the idea that same-sex unions are a threat to conventional marriage and I fully understand those who argue that opposition to gay marriage is a fundamental principle too important to be abandoned for reasons of political expediency, but these findings should, I reckon, at least be some sort of warning to those who assume that the GOP’s current position on this issue will continue to be a vote-winner.”

    30 years ago most Americans were not aware of any Gay friends, family members, or co-workers. Today most Americans ARE aware, and they have become dramatically more accepting and supportive of the Gay people and Gay couples in their lives. And social networking sites like Facebook have made the proverbial "closet" virtually obsolete. The Republican Party ignores this growing acceptance at their own peril. The economy is important, yes ... but your friends are PERSONAL.
  5. Chadwick Snow
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    Chadwick Snow - February 02, 2013 9:07 am
    This is an interesting perspective and spot on. John Parrot, and those of his ilk, are vestiges of the '80s Christian Coalition marking a time when the Republican Party was urged to pursue a social issue agenda. As the demographics of the electorate has shifted, many on the social right have continued to pursue agendas that the majority of the public do not endorse. This has been to the detriment of the party. One need only look at the 2012 election where a less than enthusiastically supported president was re-elected by a substantial margin and both senate and house seats were lost. The Republican primary process put on display the intolerant social agenda of many of the candidates and caused the party's general election candidate to backpedal from positions he was forced to take. Perhaps it isn't Brady that should be ousted as state party leader, it should be Parrot being removed from local leadership. His positions are hardly reflective of the majority of Republicans in McLean County. Many enlightened Republicans are beginning an effort to move the party forward in spite of those clinging to their outdated, sanctimonious, moral superiority. If Republicans expect to win national elections again, the house will need to be cleaned.
  6. BC
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    BC - February 02, 2013 6:49 am
    That marriage between one man and one woman has really strengthened families now hasn't it. Between a third to a half of those end in divorce. About 39% of America's children do not reach adulthood with both biological parents in the home. There is a significant number of kids living with unmarried biological parents. The vast majority of kids of divorce live with their mother, a good number live with mom who never married any of the men who fathered her kids. None of this has anything to do with the tiny minority of the population that is gay. The percent of gays wishing to marry is a bigger minority. This is a religious matter and we don't legislate religion. It is good for the country to change spouses like you do your shirt, cheat on your marriage vows, live without marriage and produce children. It is bad for this country when 2 people seek the legal protection of the contract we call marriage because they are of the same gender. Marriage is a legal contract nothing more. The rest of it is a religious ritual for people who believe in pledging their fleeting loyalties in a religious ceremony. It's fine for opposite sex partners to thumb their nose at the ritual of marriage, but don't ask for a legal binding contract if you are gay. That argument is so ridiculous it is funny. If you want to see who is destroying traditional values and families look at the 90% who are heterosexual.
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