The Chairman of the US Republican Party in Illinois has resigned, following persistent calls for him to step down over his support for equal marriage, but has denied that is the reason for his resignation.

Pat Brady announced his resignation in a letter to the Republican Party’s central committee, and was adamant that he resigned because of his wife’s battle with cancer, and not over party divides due to his equal marriage support.

In January, Brady rejected calls for him to resign for supporting same-sex marriage, after he said: “I think it’s time for people to support this.”

Earlier this month, Pat Brady said that same-sex marriage “honours the best conservative principles. It strengthens and reinforces a key Republican value – that the law should treat all citizens equally.”

In an interview with the Associated Press, Brady said that his wife had been battling “very serious” cancer, and that he wanted to spend time with her, and their children.

In response to his refusal to resign, Illinois Republicans organised a meeting for 9 March to decide whether he should stay in his role, but it was cancelled at short notice.

Back in April, the Committee met to discuss the issue, and decided that they would not vote on whether to keep Brady in power.

Brady previously said the reaction to his pro-equality stance enforced public perception that the Republican party is a group of “old white guys”, but said he would respect the decision of the committee.

Also in April, the Republican Party’s national committee voted unanimously to reaffirm its opposition to equal marriage, and to urge the Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act.