CHICAGO - Thursday morning, potential 2014 GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner told WLS 890 AM hosts John Kass and Lauren Cohn that he really doesn't have an opinion on the gay marriage issue facing the Illinois legislature.
"Gay marriage is, it's an important issue. I think it's best decided by the voters. Frankly either voter referendum or whatever format voters think makes sense. I think the voters should decide that issue," Rauner said. "But society should accept it when the time is right for them."
Chicago Tribune columnist Kass wouldn't let that answer go unchallenged. He tried to get an answer from Rauner again, saying his answers would be seen as dodging the question.
Rauner didn't budge, even for Kass. Rauner stayed on message, which, it appears, is not to express his personal views on social issues.
"Here, John, here's the important issue. There are many very important social issues - reproductive rights, abortion, gay marriage, other issues - and the reality is, our state is in dire, dire condition. And if we argue among ourselves on social issues today rather than focusing like a laser on our economy, on the graft in the inefficiency and corruption and waste in springfield and on our education system - which is the future for our children and the Illinois economy - unless we focus like a laser on those three issues, if we allow ourselves to get distracted by other arguments, they're important arguments, but if we allow ourselves to get distracted, we won't fix the core problems of the state.
"I understand what you're saying, and I don't mean to be rude, and I accept the argument, however, with this one proviso: That's good if you're the businessman who's trying to solve business issues. But as a man who would try to win the Republican primary, either you say 'I can live with gay marriage' or 'I'm against it.' Because if you do that kind of walk on the fence thing, I don't know if that suggests leadership on issues that are critical to people. Whether you're for or against gay marriage is a big deal here."
No, but here's the bottom line: Leadership needs to be on the issues that matter most and that are most critical. That's where we've gotta show leadership. I believe the voters should decide on gay marriage. That's not lacking leadership, that's saying voters decide. If, for example, the legislature passes gay marriage, I'm not gonna fight to reverse it. If they don't pass it, I'm not gonna advocate for it. At the right time, the voters will make their views known. I think that's a good outcome.
Fact is, though, that Illinois voters - Republican, Democrat and independent - have the right to know whether Rauner would sign a bill legalizing same sex marriage, outlawing abortion when the constitution allows, or, if the opportunity arose, mandating state-funded birth control. All issues of particular importance to the socially- conservative Illinois Republican base composed of grassroots activists.
Close watchers among social conservatives will, however, get a clear hint in Rauner's word choice despite his refusal to openly declare his positions on the issues at hand. "Reproductive rights" is the terminology birth control advocate Sandra Fluke is nationally renowned for using. Telling people "to accept gay marriage when the time is right" hints Rauner has no moral conviction against couples of the same sex marrying.
Illinois voters have no other option but to speculate at this point, despite the Illinois House facing a vote on SB 10 when they return after spring break.
The rest of Thursday's interview is HERE.