Republican Springfield alderman endorses Illinois marriage equality bill

Photo: Courtesy Cory Jobe.

Springfield Ald. Cory Jobe gives a speech last Fall. Photo: Courtesy Jobe.

SPRINGFIELD — With a vote on the measure in the Illinois House just days away, a Republican alderman from the State’s capitol city is throwing his support behind a bill that would legalize-same sex marriage.

Ald. Cory Jobe of Springfield’s Ward 6 — the only downstate elected official who is openly gay — said it’s about time he publicly stand up for marriage equality in his home state and urged other lawmakers, regardless of party, to do the same.

“You don’t see a lot of downstate elected officials talking about this and voicing their support about the issue so I think is time for me to stand up and do that,” Jobe told Chicago Phoenix. “I hope that me coming out and talking about this today will encourage other leaders to join me in saying it’s time to pass this bill.”

State recognition of gay and lesbian nuptials is about fairness and equal rights under the law, he said.

The legislation, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, will face its final hurdle — consideration before the full House of Representatives — as soon as March 12. The bill already cleared the Senate in a historic Valentine’s Day victory, and at least 60 votes in the House will propel the measure to the desk of Gov. Pat Quinn, who will promptly sign it into law.

As a moderate Republican, Jobe said his views are similar to the views of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who he worked for when she was treasurer, and those of U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk.

“I think we should stay out of peoples lives,” Jobe said. “When we look at this issue of marriage equality, it contradicts what most people in the party are talking about. My views align with those of the more moderate leaders.”

Married gay and lesbian couples promote stronger families and communities, and “family values” is a very conservative thing, Topinka told the Daily Herald this week.

“I don’t care about what people do in their own lives, and as an openly gay individual, I want to be treated like everyone else,” Jobe said.

However, few other Illinois Republicans have publicly stated support for same-sex marriage.

Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, has come under intense fire from GOP lawmakers for stating his “full-support” for the legislation during an earlier push for the bill in the January lame duck session and making personal calls to legislators to ask for their support. Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) is leading an effort to oust Brady as chairman for his stance, alleging Brady went against the Republican Party’s platform, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

Topinka, Brady and House Minority Leader Tom Cross have come out in defense of Brady.

And when the Illinois Senate voted 34-21 to pass the marriage equality bill last month, only one Republican, Sen. Jason Barickman of Bloomington, voted in favor of the bill, stating “this is simply the right thing to do.”

Jobe echoes Topinka’s and Brady’s calls for the Republican Party to move forward on social issues if it wants to be attractive to young leaders — and voters.

“The time is running short, but our party does have to evolve and look at some of these issues,” he said. “And it’s disappointing — especially if this last election has any indication that this party has been off on many fronts.”

“I don’t want to put this issue and Republicans together,” Jobe added. “I’m just doing it because it’s the right thing to do.”

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