A congressional candidate in Chicago, who blames natural disasters such as tornados on gay rights and claims autism is a punishment from God, has won the GOP nomination and will challenge Democrat Jan Schakowsky for the 9th Congressional district of the city.
Among her many controversial views, Susanne Atanus is vehemently against access to abortion, marriage equality and the rights of gay men and women.
The 55-year-old has claimed that same-sex marriages “breed aids” and autism and dementia are punishments from God.
During a filmed interview with her opponent David Earl Williams for The Daily Herald in January, Atanus made her views clear with remarks such as: "I am not in favour of abortions, I am not in favour of gay rights."
"God controls the weather. God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions," she continued. "Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it's in our military, it will weaken our military. We need to respect God."
According to unofficial totals, Atanus received 15,238 votes compared with Williams’ 13,864 votes, The Park Ridge Sun Times has reported.
Republicans moved quickly to distance themselves from Atanus following her comments. Illinois Republican Chairman Jack Dorgan called on the candidate to end her congressional campaign, but Atanus refused to withdraw from the GOP primary.
In a statement, he said: “The offensive statements by Susanne Atanus have no place in the modern political debate, and she has no place on the ballot as a Republican.
“Her candidacy is neither supported nor endorsed by the leaders of our party, and she should withdraw from the race immediately.”
Adam Robinson, the chairman of the Chicago Republican Party, stressed 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."