The Republican Governor of Illinois has angered parts of his voter base by officiating a gay couple’s wedding.
Bruce Rauner, who was previously elected Governor of Illinois in 2014, has previously criticised equal marriage in the state and attacked Democrats for pushing the law through without a public referendum.
But the Governor appears to have softened his stance in recent years
It emerged this week that Rauner officiated a same-sex wedding for two of his friends.
The Governor oversaw the wedding of gay Republicans Mark Cozzi and James Goeke on June 30. His wife, First Lady Diana Rauner was also in attendance.
Cozzi, who appointed to the State Universities Retirement System Board of Trustees by Rauner last year, confirmed the news to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The former Equality Illinois activist also posted a photo of the wedding on Instagram, adding: “We are hitched!”
The Illinois Family Institute, a powerful Republican-backing group that is opposed to LGBT rights, hit out at the Governor’s decision.
The group’s executive director David E. Smith fumed to the Illinois Review: “It’s clear that the governor has learned nothing from his near-loss in the Republican primary this year.
“He’s not interested in attracting social conservatives to get out and vote Republican this fall.”
On Twitter, he added: “Keep poking social conservatives in the eye Gov… you are doing a yeoman’s job of alienating the GOP base.”
It is believed Rauner is the first GOP Governor to officiate a same-sex wedding, though several Democratic Governors have done so.
LGBT equality activists reluctantly praised him for the move, which the Governor has not publicised or commented on.
Mike Ziri, Director of Public Policy at Equality Illinois, said: “We congratulate Mark and James on their wedding and wish them a lifetime of happiness.
“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.”
Rauner is facing a re-election battle on November 6, having narrowly survived a primary challenge from pro-Trump candidate Jeanne Ives.
He will face Democratic candidate J. B. Pritzker in November.
Pritzker has the endorsement of the Equality Illinois PAC over Rauner.
John Litchfield of the Equality Illinois PAC said: “JB Pritzker has been a strong and public champion of the LGBTQ community since long before support for LGBTQ equality was the norm among Democratic political leaders.
“Going back decades, he has marched in Pride parades, worked to elect LGBTQ people to office, and supported civic organizing efforts of LGBTQ community groups to broaden support for LGBTQ equality.
“There are few leaders in our state who have served as courageously and consistently for LGBTQ equality over recent decades as JB Pritzker.”
Litchfield added: “We endorse JB Pritzker and Juliana Stratton in the Democratic primary with the expectation that as Governor and Lieutenant Governor they will meet us at our table as active participants in the conversations and issues facing the LGBTQ community in Illinois now and in the future.”