The AP's Sophia Tareen reports that a coalition of high-profile pastors that led the campaign against marriage redefinition in Illinois has dropped its plans to primary black House Democrats who voted for it. In addition, primary challengers to three Republicans who voted in favor of gay marriage haven't made it much of an issue.
Of the 14 black House Democrats who voted yes, only half have primary challengers. Of the nine total challengers, seven told the AP that same-sex marriage wasn't among their top campaign issues, and one supported the vote outright.
Republican state Reps. Tom Cross, Ron Sandack, and Ed Sullivan are the three Republicans with primary challenges who voted yes. Although none of their primary foes said they considered gay marriage to be a major campaign issue, it could become one at churches and among conservatives, said Jon Zahm, a field director for Illinois Families First.
Cross, who publicly stated he would not vote for gay marriage, has been reticent to explain his last-minute vote in favor. He told the AP on Monday that he consulted his minister and family before deciding, saying: "It's a volatile issue. People are passionate about it. You're going to get people that support you and people that disagree with you. I know that."
His challenger, accountant Bob Grogan, has shied away from focusing on same-sex marriage, aside from saying it shows that Cross has flip-flopped on issues.
Sullivan's challenger, Bob Bednar, said he doesn't support same-sex marriage, but it's not why he jumped in the race. Sandack's opponent, Keith Matune, declined to state his position to AP, or say how he would've voted on same-sex marriage.
Among the House Democratic challengers surveyed, only Linda Jernigan, a Richton Park pastor at "Rescuing Ministries" church, would speak to AP. She said there should be consequences for lawmakers who voted in favor. She's one of two Democrats challenging state Rep. Al Riley and often talks about her experiences as a former lesbian who says she was saved by the church.
"There should be a price to pay if a lawmaker made a decision on same-sex marriage based on personal gain ... versus what constituents want," she said.