The momentum continues to build for same sex marriage in Illinois.
On Wednesday, Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, said he was putting his “full support” behind marriage equality legislation pending in Springfield.
“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.”
I’m actually not surprised. Gay marriage won in four elections this year and the tide has clearly turned, especially with young voters. Moreover, the tide is turning among conservatives, who see this as a way to better integrate gays into the broader society. The GOP is slowly moving toward a much more defensible position: allowing gay marriage while protecting the right of churches to define marriage as they see fit. There is a wedge here: the Obama Administration attacked the ministerial exemption last year and was soundly thrashed by a unanimous Supreme Court. With the ministerial exemption now resting on extremely solid constitutional footing, the GOP can pivot on marriage and allow it for those who want it.
This is yet another hopeful sign that the fever is breaking in the GOP and they are moving not necessarily toward moderation, per se, but toward a more practical and sensible approach to governing. If they can find a straddle that respects both sides of the culture wars — as this one seems to — it will allow them to make inroads in Democratic constituencies and defuse some of more contentious issues in politics.
But more important than that is that it’s a step toward getting government out of our private lives, for good or ill. For that lone, this is a good thing.