Republican politicians who support LGBT rights are relatively rare, and the party’s national platform is certainly not LGBT-friendly. But one of those rare GOP officeholders is Dan Rutherford, Illinois state treasurer and state chairman for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington followed Rutherford to a recent fund-raising event for gay-friendly candidates sponsored by the political action committee of LGBT rights group Equality Illinois. “The mere fact that Rutherford showed up there will fry the right,” she wrote.
A state legislator for 18 years before becoming treasurer, Rutherford was the only Republican state senator to vote for the 2010 bill that established civil unions in Illinois. He also voted four times for a bill outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation; it finally passed in 2005. He draws the line, however, at support for marriage equality.
At the event, he told Equality Illinois leaders, “I respect that we can have engaging discussion, and we won’t agree on everything. But that said, the preponderance of what I believe that your association stands for, I do too.”
Rutherford is up for reelection as treasurer and is expected to seek the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2014.