Illinois Republican Party chairman throws support behind gay marriage

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady is giving his "full support" to a push in the state to legalize gay marriage, a notable step that could give the bill an extra boost in the statehouse — and possibly help Republicans in the Democratic-leaning state.

"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 told the Chicago Sun-Times. "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."

A bill to legalize gay marriage in the state stalled briefly on Wednesday but is likely to win approval in the coming days.

Illinois's Republican Party has had much more success running social centrists like Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who returns to Congress on Thursday for the first time since his stroke, and who won on the same day a more conservative Republican lost the governor's race in 2010. Brady's unusual move could help bolster the party in socially liberal, fiscally centrist swing areas of the state, especially the Chicago suburbs.