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Two GOP Lawmakers Voice Support For Marriage Equality; Quinn Says Bill 'Very Close' To Passing

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Apr 9, 2013 4:00PM

State Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr. (R-Mundelein) and State Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove)
Two Republican state lawmakers have voiced their support for marriage equality legislation, and Gov. Pat Quinn says the bill is "very close" to passing.

State Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) became the first GOP representative to voice his support in February. On Sunday state Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr. (R-Mundelein) joined the call, making him the first among Illinois Republican party leadership.

Both Sullivan and Sandack told the Illinois Family Institute last year that they opposed civil unions [PDF].

"Rank-and-file members tend to defer to leadership," said Sandack, who added his "decision embraces conservative values of family and equality." Read an interview with Sandack on NBC's Ward Room. Sullivan told the Tribune his mother-in-law is in a same-sex relationship.

"The first reaction from people might be, 'Well he might be voting for that just because of his mother-in-law,'" Sullivan said. "The reality is, because my mother-in-law is gay, I have more of an understanding and familiarity with same-sex couples."

Sullivan is chairman of the House Republican campaign organization, making him a powerful vote. He said he is confident more republicans will sign on and "there is tremendous momentum."

Gov. Pat Quinn told reporters Monday that supporters are "very close" to getting the votes needed to pass the bill through the House and "we're going to get it done."

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady has been under fire since he voiced his support for marriage equality legislation earlier this year. Fellow Republicans, led by state Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove), have been calling for Brady's resignation and mulling moves to vote him out of leadership.

"Any Republican in Illinois who betrays the cause of marriage will be casting a career-ending vote and will be held accountable to their constituents," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage told the Daily Herald Monday.

The Illinois Senate passed marriage equality legislation on Feb. 14, and only one Republican, state Sen. Jason Barickman (Champaign) voted to support it. The bill has been stalled in the Illinois House for some time. In March House Speaker Michael Madigan said the measure was just 12 votes short of passage. Recent reports indicate black lawmakers may be the key swing voters on the issue.