In my State Senator Kirk Dillard's political universe, gay marriage is the issue that dare not speak its name. Try to get the Senator to explain his position and you'd better have a lot of patience. After repeated attempts, he finally emailed me with the cryptic statement that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, in spite of the thousands of legally married same sex couples in the US and millions more in the enlightened countries of the world. Although avoiding how he'd actually vote, I got the picture and was not surprised, though thoroughly disappointed, that he voted "NYET". Fortunately, most Senate Democrats and one lone Senate Republican, Jason Barickman of Bloomington, voted to have Illinois join the other 9 states and Washington D.C., who fully believe gays, being US citizens, are entitled to the same civil rights as non-gays. What a novel idea!
Go to Dillard's website and his obtuse mention of the historic Senate passage of marriage equality treats it as a frivolous diversion from the state's business and simply trots out right wing talking points against gay marriage, without mentioning his vote or his personal position.
We should care about Dillard's NO vote because he is the only one of the 19 GOP Senators officially running for governor. One would think that anyone seeking to be governor of all the people would be careful not to go on record for withholding one of the most basic civil rights, the right to marry your lifetime partner, from hundreds of thousands of your intended subjects.
Why then would Dillard cast such a self destructive and embarrassing vote? One word: Politics. To face a Democrat in the general election Dillard must get past the energized and ultra conservative voters in the GOP primary. He's already lost one such primary by an eyelash to far right conservative Bill Brady, paving the way to Pat Quinn's election in 2010, and he's not about to lose another. By most accounts a moderate, Dillard would be crucified by a far right opponent such as potential Tea Party candidate Joe Walsh had he voted for gay marriage. This is Dillard's "Romney" problem: a moderate who must swear allegiance to ludicrous Republican culture war issues to get past the primary in hopes of convincing the general electorate he's neither a bigot nor a fool in the main event. Good luck with that Senator.
To answer the question, "Does Dillard's no vote on gay marriage disqualify him to be governor", the answer for me is an emphatic YES! All Illinois voters should ponder this essential civil rights issue he disavowed, to answer that question for themselves.
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