Illinois Republicans Nominate Candidate Who Blames Gay Rights For Autism And Tornadoes


All of the Republican incumbents in Illinois who supported marriage equality won their primaries Tuesday, but one particularly anti-LGBT candidate for Congress did beat her more liberal challenger. Susanne Atanus, who is challenging Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s (D) seat in Illinois’ 9th District (which includes much of Chicago), won her Republican primary against former Obama-supporter and Navy veteran David Earl Williams III.

Atanus received national attention in January when she told the Daily Herald that God sends devastating weather like tornadoes and diseases like autism as punishment for LGBT equality and abortion rights:

“I am a conservative Republican and I believe in God first,” Atanus said. She said she believes God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth as in response to gay rights and legalized abortions.

“God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she said. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”

In response to those comments, the state Republican party did its best to distance itself from her:

Her candidacy is neither supported nor endorsed by the leaders of our party, and she should withdraw from the race immediately,” state party chair Jack Dorgan said in the statement, with Chicago chair Adam Robinson adding that “Atanus is not in any way affiliated with any of our efforts in the Chicago GOP, nor have we ever supported, endorsed, or assisted her in any way at any time.”

The party confirmed to ThinkProgress Wednesday that it stands by this statement, but offered no new response to her primary victory. Atanus’ will be listed as the Republican candidate on the November ballot challenging Schakowsky.