CHICAGO - A $4,800 contribution to the Cross for Treasurer campaign from Chicago gay rights activist Clark Pellett is raising questions about Cross' critical vote last month to legalize gay marriage. Up until the day of the vote, Cross' staff consistently assured conservatives that Cross would be a solid "no" vote.
Pellett, who is in a same-sex relationship with Chicago's Robert Kohl, is credited with having a leadership role in passing Illinois' gay marriage law. For years, Pellett was active in the Republican Party as Chicago GOP's chairman. He has also donated to Cross' political campaigns over the years.
Pellett's check, reported to the Illinois State Board of Elections Thursday, brought Cross' gay marriage vote back into the spotlight because his support for the measure was unexpected, and the bill narrowly passed with one vote more than needed.
"We were surprised when Cross voted yes," Illinois Family Action's David E. Smith told Illinois Review. "He lied to us. Absolutely, he lied."
"Had the three Republicans that voted for gay marriage held firm to the party platform, we'd still be fighting the issue in Springfield," Smith said.
Cross' spokesman Kevin Artl denied Pellett's donation to Cross' campaign had anything to do with Cross' final vote. He pointed to several media stories that showed frustration with Cross as being "ambiguous" about his public position on gay marriage.
"I don't think it's fair to say 'flip-flop' when [Rep. Cross] had never cast a vote [on the issue before]," Artl wrote in an email to Illinois Review. "No doubt, it was a vote he struggled with and took a great deal of time and reflection to consider."
"For me, supporting marriage equality is not only the right decision, but also consistent with my belief in individual freedom, equality and limited government," Cross said in a statement after the vote.
Cross' belief in individual freedom also extends to his views on abortion, medical marijuana, sex education instruction in schools, stem cell research and gambling expansion, Smith said.
"He's never been anything but liberal on social issues," Smith told IR. "But he assured many he would stick with the Republican Party platform when he voted on gay marriage. We were lied to."
Cross' primary opponent, DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan, has steered around the gay marriage vote since it became law last month.