CHICAGO — January 2, 2013 — With support building for legislation that would give gay and lesbian couples in Illinois the freedom to marry, two prominent Republican Party leaders on Wednesday declared their support for the bill.
Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, on Wednesday stated his "full support" of marriage equality legislation pending in Springfield. Brady is personally contacting Republican legislators to urge them to vote for the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, he said.
Brady said he was expressing his views individually and not as the leader of the state party.
"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. "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."
"Importantly, the pending legislation would protect the freedom of religion," Brady added. "No church or religious organization would ever be required to perform a union with which it disagrees."
Also Wednesday, a key national Republican leader, former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, joined Brady in urging the Illinois General Assembly to pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.
"Republicans should support the freedom to marry in Illinois, consistent with our core conservative belief in freedom and liberty for all," Mehlman said. "Allowing civil marriage for same-sex couples will cultivate community stability, encourage fidelity and commitment, and foster strong family values."
Mehlman served as RNC Chairman from 2005 to 2007. Previously, he was campaign manager for the 2004 re-election of President George W. Bush.