Majority of Virginian Voters Back Marriage Equality, Poll Finds
A new poll by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT rights group, finds a significant shift in the views of Virginian voters when it comes to marriage rights for same-sex couples. The data shows 55 percent of voters in the state support gay marriage, while 41 percent say it should be illegal, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
The poll comes just after the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it will file a lawsuit in federal court to challenge a 2006 constitutional amendment that bans same-sex couples from marrying in Virginia.
A June 2012 poll from the Quinnipiac University found 49 percent backed gay marriage with 42 against, and in May 2011 a poll showed 47 percent of Virginia voters believe gay marriage should be legal with 43 percent who were against marriage equality. Also in 2006, 57 percent supported the ban on gay marriage and just 43 percent thought it should be legal, the Washington Times reports.
"There is a quiet transformation taking place in the heart of the South," Dan Rafter, associate director of communications for the HRC, told the Times-Dispatch. "Here in Virginia, everyday folks - Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and progressives, people of every color and every faith - they are increasingly unified by the single belief that no Virginian and no American should be treated like a second-class citizen because of who they are or who they love."
The new poll also broke down which areas mostly backed gay marriage. It found that 68 percent of voters from northern Virginia supported the issue and that 53 percent of central Virginia backed gay marriage. Eastern Virginia also had high support with 51 percent of voters. But in the west, a strong 68 percent of people surveyed oppose marriage rights for same-sex couples.
The poll comes just a few weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and found that California's Proposition 8 had no standing, allowing same-sex marriage to resume in the state.
"If we had that election today, I'm not sure it would come out the same way," Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" last month, according to the Washington Times.