Illlinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, married James Goeke and Mark Cozzi last month but is now being called out by his far-right constituents.
“This is just reminding people that he does have a social agenda, and it’s not conservative, it’s not Republican, and it’s certainly not pro-life,” David E. Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, told the Chicago Tribune. “This is just another reminder of how much damage he has done to the Republican brand and its policy goals.”
Goeke and Cozzi, however, were happy to start their marriage with the politician.
“We are elated that Governor Rauner was able to officiate our wedding. He and his wife Diana are great friends of ours and wonderful people,” Cozzie and Goeke told the Tribune via email. “We got married, are starting a family and are actively involved in the community as well as philanthropy. We are bewildered why certain groups take offense at two people who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together.”
Cozzi has been on the board of trustees of the State Universities Retirement System since 2017. Previously, he was a Rauner appointee to the Illinois State Board of Investment.
Though Rauner has yet to comment about the controversy, Mike Ziri, director of public policy at LGBT group Equality Illinois, emailed a statement to the Tribune.
"As chief executive of our state, it is appropriate for Gov. Rauner to administer government-sanctioned functions, including marriage. There is no license to discriminate in Illinois, as the Illinois Family Institute seems to falsely believe," he wrote.
The governor has not made many statements on LGBT rights, but he did march in the Aurora Pride parade days before he officiated the wedding. In 2015 he signed into law a bill banning the use of so-called conversion therapy on minors. Although his fiscal conservatism has led to clashes with Democratic legislators, he has supported some other progressive social causes, including signing into law a bill that expanded taxpayer-subsidized abortions. In this year's Republican primary, he defeated a challenger, state Rep. Jeanne Ives, who thought him insufficiently conservative. Ives notably ran a racist, sexist, transphobic ad during the campaign.
However, Rauner is still very much a Republican. He's scheduled to introduce Vice President Mike Pence at a forum on federal tax cuts Friday in Rosemont, a Chicago suburb.