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Oberweis questions Brady’s marriage stance

State Sen. Jim Oberweis is trying to convene a meeting with Republican lawmakers to talk about views Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady has expressed on same-sex marriage.

Oberweis, of Sugar Grove, said Thursday he wants to address Brady’s open support of same-sex marriage because it’s contrary to party lines. He said he recently sent emails to gauge interest in setting up a meeting to discuss the issue before a regular party meeting scheduled for April.

He said as someone with a business background, it raises red flags if a company’s CEO makes remarks contrary to an organization’s views. He said he wants to discuss whether Brady should continue to serve as chairman or if the issue can be resolved amicably.

“At minimum, he should have talked to us first,” Oberweis said.

Brady, from St. Charles, said with same-sex marriage legislation pending in the General Assembly, he threw his support behind a marriage equality group when members approached him. He parted with long-held Republican Party views when he said marriage equality is one of his beliefs, and not allowing it is discriminatory.

“Oberweis is leading the charge because I said in a personal capacity that I believe we could get on board with same-sex marriage,” Brady said. “In my opinion, I don’t think it’s right what he’s doing.”

Brady has been Illinois GOP chairman for more than three years, and his term ends in March 2014. It would require a three-fifths weighted vote from state party committeemen to remove him as chairman.

He said most ousted chairmen are removed because of misconduct such as stealing, and he isn’t worried about being removed based on voicing his opinion.

Oberweis said the issue isn’t about marriage, but Brady openly parting with Republican views as the state GOP chairman. Oberweis said three people – he needs five for a special meeting to happen – he emailed were willing to sign a letter to have a party meeting earlier than April.

He said he wants to “sit down and deal with it” so lawmakers can get back to what’s important, like the state not paying bills on time, job creation and government expenditures.

“In general, Pat has done a reasonably good job,” Oberweis said. “He’s a breath of fresh air compared to the party insiders we’ve had in the past.”

Barb Wojnicki, chairman of the Kane County Republican Party, said the group plans to address Brady’s opinion at its meeting Feb. 5. She said she wants to discuss it as a group before taking any sort of stance.

Brady said he believes Republicans are “behind the times” when it comes to same-sex marriage and noted the party was badly beaten in the polls in the most recent election. He said the GOP should be a more inclusive “big tent” party open to diverse opinions.

“We need to be better about articulating our Republican principles,” he said. “We’re the party of Lincoln. We’re supposed to be the party without discrimination.”

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