2016 Illinois GOP Platform Report


Written by David E. Smith 

The 2016 Illinois Republican Convention was held in Peoria this past weekend on Friday and Saturday. We are thrilled to report that leftists within the party failed to advance their agenda in the newly adopted 2016 Illinois GOP Platform.

If fact, Illinois Republicans strengthened the Right to Life plank in the platform and rejected an attempt to water down and distort the Marriage and Family plank!

THANK YOU to all of you who took time last week to contact the members of the platform committee and helped to spread the word of the attempt to subvert the Marriage and Family plank. YOU made a huge difference.

The eighteen members of the platform committee (one appointee from each of Illinois’ congressional districts) met on Friday to consider new language for section VII of the platform–the plank on Marriage and Family.

While Jan Klaas of the 16th District offered a strong draft version of this plank, the platform committee instead voted to adopt a troubling version submitted by Ryan Higgins of the 8th District. This draft was heavily supported by the disgraced former Illinois GOP chairman, Pat Brady, who for some unknown reason represented the 6th District.

The committee vote was 10 in favor, 7 opposed, and one abstention  (55.6%). Thankfully this plank would be rejected on Saturday by 79.4% of the delegates.

Significant Problems

While both paragraphs C and D were problematic, the most significant problems were found in paragraph C:

Platform-Marriage2016-Highligted draft

At a quick glance, this language may seem innocuous, but substitute the word “families” with other key issues and the problem becomes immediately apparent:

We acknowledge and welcome the diversity of opinions within our party regarding the Second Amendment…

We acknowledge and welcome the diversity of opinions within our party regarding the sanctity of life…

We acknowledge and welcome the diversity of opinions within our party regarding immigration…

We acknowledge and welcome the diversity of opinions within our party regarding tax policies and rates

Of course conservatives would have a serious problem “welcoming” opinions in the platform that support tighter gun control, abortion, open borders, and higher taxes. So why would we “welcome the diversity of opinions” on families? Doesn’t that contradict the very purpose of the platform?

Yet the problems with this plank do not end there. Paragraph C continues:

We acknowledge and welcome the diversity of opinions within our party regarding families, including the views that marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman, that non-traditional families are worthy of the same respect and legal protections as traditional families.

Ryan Higgins and Pat Brady (Higgins/Brady) evidently believe that the institution of marriage is the same as and equal to “non-traditional” families. And they want the Illinois Republican Platform to reflect this untruth. Moreover, the term “non-traditional” is undefined. It seems likely that Higgins and Brady are referring to the union of two men or two women, but “non-traditional” would certainly include polygamy and cohabitation, and could extend to incestuous unions.

The problems don’t end there. We will address the other issues in Part 2.

Minority Report

The seven members of the committee who opposed the Higgins/Brady draft requested a minority report, asking that the Illinois GOP adopt the far superior 2012 Marriage and Family plank in section VII instead. This required the support of 50 delegation heads of the party, which include county chairmen, Cook County Township chairmen, or Chicago Ward Committeemen.

In less than 12 hours, conservative activists and leaders were able to secure the support of 71 delegation heads.  A big “thank you” to all who were involved in this process, especially Mark Shaw, Stan Bond, Fred Floreth, Chris Cleveland, Laurie Bluedorn, Sharee Langenstein, Bob Grogan, Kathy Valente, Karen Hayes, Bonnie Quirke and David Norck.

According to former Will County GOP Chairman Edward Ronkowski, “[n]o one in the history of Illinois Republican Conventions has been able to meet this high hurdle before. Four years ago in Tinley Park a group came close after working TWO days to get the signatures.”

This was only possible because of the great many conservatives who worked together to get this done.  I am deeply grateful for those who refuse to allow the platform to get hijacked by the Left.

The state party certified the minority report, and on Saturday afternoon, it was presented to the full delegation of Republicans. Before the vote, the rules allowed for three proponents and two opponents of the minority report to speak. On our side, State Senator Dan McConchie of Lake Zurich spoke first, followed by State Representative Terri Bryant of Mt. Vernon.  State Representative Peter Breen of Lombard closed out the remarks. (Rep. Breen is also an attorney with the Thomas More Society, a law firm that specializes in upholding life, family, and religious liberty.)


Speaking against the minority report and against a return to the 2012 marriage plank were Ryan Higgins of Schaumburg and Elisha French of Galesburg.

Mr. French choose to emphasize religious freedom in paragraph B of the Higgins/Brady draft, warning attendees that the 2012 Marriage and Family plank did not have such a provision. While he is correct, if French and other committee members believe the issue of religious freedom is important, they should have added it as its own stand-alone plank or a separate resolution, as was done at the 2012 state convention.

Religious freedom is certainly under attack, but it is not directly or solely a marriage and family issue. The threats to religious liberty come from many different angles. For example, the Little Sisters of the Poor refuse to yield to the Obamacare requirement to cover contraception, abortive drugs and sterilization.  No one should be forced to violate their deeply held religious beliefs beliefs.  The sanctity of life is a core Christian tenet.

Mr. Higgins angered many when he promoted the fact that “God” was in his draft, and then challenged delegates not to be like the Democrats, who took God out of their platform four years ago.  Technically, Mr. Higgins is correct; God is mentioned in paragraph A. But biblical truths about marriage and family are tacitly undermined in paragraph C of this draft.  It isn’t a stretch to say that God was misrepresented in the Higgins/Brady draft.

Overwhelming Support

After Rep. Breen closed out the proponents’ advocacy for a return to the 2012 Marriage and Family plank, Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider called the motion for a vote, asking those delegates in favor to stand and be counted.

Of the 984 delegates at the convention, 782 were counted standing for the 2012 plank–an overwhelming 79.4% response and rebuke to Higgins/Brady.

It turns out that convincing Republicans of the meaning and importance of true marriage and family wasn’t all that difficult.

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