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Monday, Apr 8, 2013

* David Ormsby at the Illinois Observer (subscribe here, I get a cut) ran a fascinating story about a political action committee formed to fight gay marriage in black House districts. The post is behind a firewall, but it was about how the National Organization for Marriage had given $72,000 to the African American Clergy Coalition in the last month.

Much of NOM’s money has been spent on consultants and pastors who oppose gay marriage. For instance…

The PAC’s public face, Bishop Larry Trotter, got $1,000 for “clergy consulting”. The PAC’s chairman, Lance Davis, got $1,000 for “clergy consulting.” The PAC’s treasurer, Marlo Kemp, got $2,100 for “administrative management.”

Public relations flack, Sean Howard, who has hovered under Trotter’s halo for years and who flits from office holder to officer holder, has pocketed $3,600 for “media” and “production.” Lobbyist Frank Bass got $3,600 for “consulting.” Attorney Anthony Bass pulled in $4,000 for “legal services.”

Convergent Consulting Group, whose Illinois corporate status was involuntarily dissolved in 2002, got $2,100 for a cheesy-looking Web site whose mission statement says nothing about opposing same sex marriage.

The web site is here. Oof.

The group has reported spending just $11,015 to actually air the ads.

* Meanwhile, as subscribers already know, you can add Rep. Ed Sullivan to the list

State Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr. of Mundelein said Sunday he will support a bill to allow gay marriage in Illinois, becoming the second House Republican to do so and first among leadership.

Sullivan, who is chairman of the House Republican campaign organization, said his decision to back same-sex marriage represented a personal and family evolution on the issue. Previously an opponent of civil unions, Sullivan told the Tribune that his mother-in-law, who lives in the southwest suburbs, has been in a same-sex relationship. […]

A state representative since 2003, Sullivan and state Rep. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove are the only House Republicans to publicly announce their backing of the same-sex marriage bill, which already passed the state Senate. With House lawmakers returning to Springfield on Monday after a two-week break, supporters of the measure have said they were within a dozen votes of the 60 needed to pass it.

Sullivan said he believes more Republicans among the 47 in the House will sign on. […]

“I try to err on the side of being a public servant and serving my district as opposed to potentially being a politician and just serving that subset (opposed based on religion) and those within my party who don’t necessarily want this to pass,” he said. “I look at this as a freedom, as a conservative view of treating people equally.”

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

You can always tell when somebody is losing an argument because they’re constantly backtracking and recalibrating. And it’s no different with gay marriage.

In January, for instance, newly elected state Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) freely admitted that gay marriage was at the heart of his desire to oust state Republican Chairman Pat Brady, who’d recently announced his support for a Senate bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I believe we have to have a meeting to ask Pat for an explanation, to modify his actions or get a new CEO,” Oberweis told the Kane County Chronicle then. “Our CEO has taken very open, public action contrary to the organization, and that’s unacceptable.”

Immediately, however, more moderate GOP leaders pushed back hard against Oberweis, saying that ousting the party’s chairman over gay marriage would send absolutely the wrong message to the voting public, which was coming around fast to supporting the issue.

Young people, in particular, count themselves as strong supporters of the concept, so staunchly advocating outdated policies would continue to stunt the party’s potential growth.

Oberweis didn’t give up his challenge to Brady. Far from it. Indeed, he apparently came within a weighted percentage point of the required 60 percent vote to oust Brady during a planned emergency state party meeting last month.

The meeting was canceled when some central committeemen decided to heed the commands of party leaders such as U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and backed off.

But while Oberweis didn’t drop his attempt to force Brady out, he did change his tune on the reasons. A month after saying it was all about gay marriage, Oberweis told Chicago Public Radio “it has nothing to do with gay marriage.”

That even a guy like Oberweis felt the need to drastically retool his public message shows how far this issue has come — and how even some on the hard social Right now understand that they have to walk a whole lot more softly or risk a voter backlash.

Since then, Republican leaders who want Brady ousted have kept a lid on their conservative colleagues’ inflammatory rhetoric and tried to focus their ire on Brady’s performance during last year’s election campaign.

Those objections ring hollow, however, because none of the state central committeemen uttered so much as a peep about Brady’s tenure during a post-election state party meeting in December.

This putsch is all about gay marriage, but the coup plotters at least have the sense to try and couch their terms in a more acceptable manner, which means that even they know they’ve lost the public debate.

State Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), a conservative Catholic who has long opposed gay marriage, has not taken a public position on Brady’s tenure.

Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), who has moved further to the right since losing the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nomination to Bill Brady, is, like his former opponent, staunchly opposed to gay marriage. But like Sen. Brady, Dillard has refused to take a position on Chairman Brady’s support for the issue, leaving it up to the state central committee to decide whether he should remain as chairman.

None of this is meant to suggest that state Sens. Oberweis, Brady and Dillard are about to switch sides and support gay marriage, as Kirk did recently.

But it does suggest that even these hardened conservatives understand that they’re on the wrong side of this issue and must tiptoe around it for fear of damaging their political party.

Two years ago, it would’ve been considered impossible that an Illinois Republican chairman would so publicly support gay marriage. That, in and of itself, shows how far and how quickly public sentiment on the issue has changed.

But Pat Brady has always been a part of the party’s more moderate wing. I think what’s more important here is how even some of the state’s top social conservatives are moderating their public messaging on same-sex marriage.

* And this is from the Sun-Times

The battle for the potentially pivotal votes of African American legislators on a bill to legalize gay marriage in Illinois intensified Friday — as opponents and proponents alike pulled out the big guns.

Leading the opposition, Cardinal Francis George and a group of black ministers launched an aggressive campaign against same-sex marriage to be waged through radio commercials and telephone calls.

Weighing in on the other side, national civil rights leader Julian Bond sent a letter urging legislators to grant equal rights to “my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”

All politics is local and Julian Bond is not local. No contest on this one.

* Related…

* Washington: Gay marriage foes reek of hypocrisy

* Influential Black Pastors Split On State’s Marriage Equality Bill

* Cardinal George, Chicago pastors re-assert support for one-man, one-woman marriage

- Posted by Rich Miller        


19 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 10:22 am:

    Good on Reps. Sandback and Sullivan. I imagine some other suburban GOPers are giving it a think.

    Here’s from the Mission Statement of the African-American Clergy Coalition. Something seems to be missing:

    –Providing a community forum where issues affecting the lives of African-American and other oppressed people are shared, resources are identified, and resolutions are sought to address specific needs. The primary needs AACC seeks to address are homelessness, hunger, housing, economic development (through Mission Uplift) and Health.–

    Nothing about gay marriage among their primary issues. Or saving souls, for that matter.

    http://www.africanamericanclergycoalition.org/#!about1/cu9o


  2. - ZC - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 10:30 am:

    Something else to note here, with a few exceptions the GOP’s “ultra rich” - the Kochs, the Sheldon Adelsons, etc. - are very pro- gay marriage personally.

    You add together the generational component, the growing Dem unity, and the big money pressure on the GOP from above, from their own country club patrons, and the social conservatives in the GOP are getting squeezed hard on this one from all sides.


  3. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 11:13 am:

    This legislative session might be one of the most significant ones. Gay marriage, medical marijuana legalization and pension reform. Will any of these three get enacted this session?


  4. - Shore - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 11:13 am:

    We haven’t heard Danny Davis, Bobby Rush, the president-who supports gay marriage now, or the Reverend Jesse Jackson weigh in on this.

    As I said earlier, I think Pat Brady has made a real mistake jumping out on gay marriage for several reasons. The party’s problem with younger voters, moderates, and others goes much deeper than this issue and unless you’re going to take on things like the Ryan budget, the intolerance within the party, ect all you’re doing with this is creating a bigger divide between the party elite and the conservative base which doesn’t do the party anything. I hope Oberweis and dan proft and others in the party’s conservative base go right at chairman brady and senator kirk, and others on this.


  5. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 11:19 am:

    Um, other oppressed people, people. It right there in your mission statement.


  6. - Samurai - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 11:38 am:

    @Shore==I hope Oberweis and dan proft and others in the party’s conservative base go right at chairman brady and senator kirk, and others on this==

    I thought Oberweis kind of did go after Brady? The Star Chamber was ready to convene until the good senator was beat back by Cross, Kirk and others. Do you really think going after Mark Kirk on gay marriage is a good idea generally and for the GOP specifically?


  7. - LincolnLounger - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 11:49 am:

    “The party’s problem with younger voters, moderates, and others goes much deeper than this issue…”

    Shore, you acknowledge the problem, but your logic is it’s too big to do anything about so it’s better just to appease the social conservatives?

    Yes, right-thinking people will always look to Oberweis to lead the way. Great strategy there.


  8. - Amalia - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 11:49 am:

    sean howard…omg.


  9. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 11:55 am:

    It appears commenters have advised Kassamoron that CousinBrucey’s referendum on Mariage Equality does not work in ILooears.
    Kassamoron did note the Cuz ducked the issue twice, but he failed to point out that even teh duck — referendum is not a permitted way to change IL laws.

    THe IL Observer piece on the secret pac was news more would like to see in the “real media”


  10. - Demoralized - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 11:56 am:

    ==I hope Oberweis and dan proft and others in the party’s conservative base go right at chairman brady and senator kirk, and others on this.==

    It’s always a good strategy to do everything you can to continue to tear the party apart and cement its status as a permanent minority party. Another glaring example of the complete failure of some Republicans not getting it. The ignorance amazes me.


  11. - Just Me - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 12:26 pm:

    My father, the most extreme Republican of anyone I know, revealed to me that equal marriage has now become a litmus test for him in Republican primaries. He will only vote for Republicans who support it!!

    He recognizes that those who stand in the way of progress and equal rights are not the party of Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan. He reminded me that as Governor Reagan was against a proposition to ban gays from being California teachers.


  12. - small r - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 1:20 pm:

    No surprise, Black pastors figuring out how to make a buck! I am just happy to have someone in the Republican Party named Brady on the right side of SSM. He has provided a ray on hope for many of us with gay children.


  13. - Fed up - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 2:28 pm:

    The GOP needs to get away from stupid losing arguments on social issues if it is going to survive. 2014/2016 need to be about jobs, the economy, debt, and the future.


  14. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 2:38 pm:

    The primary objection remaining to SSM is reflected in this group: religion. And, that is the primary reason why the opposition cannot be enshrined in law. (Hint: It’s the first clause of the First Amendment.)


  15. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 2:56 pm:

    –The primary objection remaining to SSM is reflected in this group: religion. And, that is the primary reason why the opposition cannot be enshrined in law. (Hint: It’s the first clause of the First Amendment.) –

    The primary objections cited by attorneys defending Prop 8 and DOMA before the Supremes was procreation, in that, “legitimate” marriages required being fruitful and multiplying.

    I’m sure that went over real well with Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas.


  16. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 5:12 pm:

    Really? I thought we’d already shot down the notion that childless marriage was as legit as the other kind.


  17. - Ben Marcum - Monday, Apr 8, 13 @ 8:44 pm:

    Rich,
    I must take issue with your characterization of Jim Oberweis backtracking or recalibrating his message on the Pat Brady issue. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since the story about Pat Brady lobbying legislators first broke, Jim’s message has been the same. From day one Senator Oberweis has stated in nearly every interview that this indeed, has NOTHING to do with gay marriage. Instead, it is and always has been an issue of corporate governance. You’ve been around long enough to know that most of these reporters have the story written before they even speak with him. I am fully aware of the narrative that Jim is some sort of ultra right wing bigot who hates illegal immigrants and gays. I’ve worked closely with the man for a decade and I assure you it is total myth. I fail to see a link of recalibration or retooling drawn from the Kane County Chronicle quote. Jim has always told reporters that if it had been another issue contrary to the Republican platform his response would have been the same. It could have been Pat Brady supporting Obamacare or Quinn’s tax increase. You later go on to say, “A month after saying it was all about gay marriage, Oberweis told Chicago Public Radio “It has nothing to do with gay marriage.” The Chicago Public Radio quote is COMPLETELY consistent with what he has said from the beginning. I’ve heard him give the interviews. It just is not the case!! With the current legislature being the most liberal in my lifetime, I don’t see how Jim is losing the argument when Madigan still can’t find the votes to pass it. It appears to me like Jim is winning the argument.

    Respectfully,

    Ben Marcum
    Political Director
    Friends of Jim Oberweis


  18. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Apr 9, 13 @ 7:29 am:

    Rich,

    What a great column. This problem of Litmus Testers and Blood Oathers has become something that is tearing away My Party, and in turn, the conservative’s wing of an “Idea of what a Republican is, or should be.”

    What should be disappointing to Jim Oberweis is the outright rejection of his SSM idea as the lever for removal of Pat Brady. Not one of the “Slytherin Conspirators” can make an arguement based solely on SSM, and the backtracking, the “swimming the backstroke against the tide” by Jim Oberweis shows the “Tin Ear” of Oberweis, and how truly sad it is that Jim Oberweis thinks he can lead My Party, when in fact his “Tin Ear” allows him to lead us Republicans to be Intolerant an Unwelcoming except to the rigid Right “Base”, which is also shrinking. When someone as “strong” as Jim Oberweis tried to flex, the weakness of his “muscle”, or even the knowledge of the issue, has made Jim Oberweis look even Dopier if that was even possible, but Jim Oberweis … Senator … Jim Oberweis … is patheticly inept at understanding the political angle … of Politics.

    I hope Jim Oberweis keeps talking and talking … and explaining and explaining … because Jim Oberweis is losing … and losing.

    The more Jim Oberweis is losing, the losing can be only BETTER for My Party and keeping the “Slytherin Conspriators”, the Litmus Testers and Blood Oathers away, evenn if they have thier pitch forks and torches… and not the issue as their weapon.

    Well said, Rich … well done.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Apr 9, 13 @ 7:43 am:

    Rep. Ed Sullivan,

    Well done and said.

    The Reagan Rule of 80% should not be a “talking point” or something that sounds “cool” or even look cool when typed.

    We Republicans must … MUST … understand that being Right, and losing is no longer an acceptable way to run My Party.

    We Republicans represent 66 districts out of 177 possible. Look at our Caucuses!!! Where is the diversity of THOUGHT… and where o’ where is the Diversity? We are attracting a subgroup of voters … all the while our Caucuses ARE a subgroup of Illinois. You can’t win Majorities with these ideas, and the dismissal of the Reagan Rule of 80%, so why be Right, and be ignored by the voters?

    Rep. Ed sullivan, I hope there are 4 or 5 more like you in the House, so the STAIN of the Litmus Testers and Blood Oathers will have a response for the voters to hear with your stance, and we can grow as a Party.

    Well done.


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