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Illinois Republican party chairman resigns

(Reuters) - Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady resigned on Tuesday less than a month after surviving a challenge by some party leaders after he voiced public support for gay marriage as the state legislature considers a bill to legalize same-sex nuptials.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as chairman of the Illinois Republican Party for nearly the last four years," Brady said in a letter posted on the party website that said he was resigning effective immediately.

Brady, who thanked his wife Julie and four children, did not mention the battle with the Illinois Republican Party's central committee in April in his letter. He had held the post since 2009.

"Although the role will change, I will continue to be active in Illinois and national politics in a variety of capacities, including organizations supporting our candidates in the upcoming gubernatorial and congressional races," he said.

Conservative state Senator Jim Oberweis had spearheaded the effort to remove Brady as chairman, in part due to Brady's voiced support for a same-sex marriage law and the party's weak showing in the November election.

Illinois Republicans lost seats in Congress, and both chambers of the state legislature in November.

The Illinois state Senate on Valentine's Day voted to legalize gay marriage in President Barack Obama's home state, and Democratic Governor Pat Quinn has said he would sign such a law. The issue has not been brought for a vote in the House.

Public opinion polls show a majority of Americans believe that same sex marriage should be legal and a small but growing group of Republican politicians have also endorsed it, including Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, who did so in April.

Some 30 U.S. states have passed constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, while 10 states and the District of Columbia allow it. Delaware was set to become the 11th U.S. State to allow gay marriage after the state Senate approved a bill legalizing it on Tuesday.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Phil Berlowitz)

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