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ACLU hires ex-GOP chief Pat Brady to lobby for same-sex marriage

PBrady (pictured 2009)  |  AP file photo

Pat Brady (pictured in 2009) | AP file photo

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Updated: September 29, 2013 6:50AM



Former Illinois GOP Chair Pat Brady, who was pushed out by party conservatives because of his vocal support for same-sex marriage, is writing his next chapter by tackling the same issue.

Starting in November, Brady plans to begin lobbying Republican state lawmakers on passing same-sex marriage on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU has tapped Brady and his consulting firm, Next Generation Public Affairs, to help push the legislation through the Illinois House.

“Illinois is one of the top-priority states, urgency-wise. I’m working for them at their direction,” Brady told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday. “I’m concentrating on Republicans and like-minded people. I’m excited to work with this group. It’s a great organization. I think it’s going to get done this time. I’m really excited about it.”

In the face of a Statehouse packed with supporters of the issue, the bill legalizing same-sex marriage was never called for a vote in the House before the final day of the session. The bill’s sponsor, Greg Harris (D-Chicago), tearfully explained that he didn’t have enough votes.

Strategically, having Brady on board is a direct attempt at gaining ground where same-sex marriage advocates had little — among Republicans. There’s still considerable opposition, however, and heavy lobbying to kill the bill, including by religious groups who have targeted Republicans as well as members of the Black Caucus.

“We didn’t have a single caucus problem, we had a vote problem. We didn’t have enough votes,” said Ed Yohnka, director of communications and public policy at the ACLU. “We believe there are Republicans out there who support marriage equality.”

Yohnka said he thinks Brady has the credibility to bring Republicans over on the issue.

Brady said the proposed law could be called for a vote during November’s legislative veto session.

“From my understanding, they think there’s a chance in the veto session,” Brady said.

State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) was the architect of opposition to Brady’s stance as state chair, urging that he be ousted after making his views on gay marriage public. Brady eventually stepped down in May. Asked for his reaction to Brady’s new lobbying gig, Oberweis wished him well.

“I think he’s totally free to do whatever he sees fit,” Oberweis told the Sun-Times on Tuesday. “Whatever works for him, as long as he’s not party chairman.”

Email: nkorecki@suntimes.com

Twitter: @natashakorecki



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