As nationwide support grows for same-sex marriage, so goes Virginia.
Forty-six percent of Virginians oppose same-sex marriage and 45 percent support allowing it, according to a poll from the University of Mary Washington.
That’s a marked change from 2006, when 57 percent of Virginia voters approved an amendment to the Virginia Constitution defining marriage as something between one man and one woman.
Researchers from Princeton Survey Research Associates on behalf of the University of Mary Washington surveyed more than 1,000 Virginia residents between March 20 – 24 this year, completing the survey just as the U.S. Supreme Court started hearing arguments on two cases related to same-sex marriage rights. Decisions in those cases are pending.
“Rarely does public opinion shift on a social issue as rapidly as it has for gay marriage,” Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at UMW and director of the university’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, told the University of Mary Washington student newspaper. “While opposition to gay marriage remains stronger here than nationally, the rapid erosion of that opposition among Virginians in the years since the 2006 amendment vote is astonishing.”
In March, Patch spoke with one Falls Church couple who said they are overall pleased with the progress on the gay marriage debate in Virginia.
“I don’t know why there is an issue with gay marriage when 50 percent of heterosexual marriages don’t work,” said Clifton Taylor, a Falls Church resident who has been with partner Lawrence Webb for 13 years.
- See: Gay Marriage: Falls Church Couple Proud of the Progress on Debate
On Valentine’s Day, a handful of same-sex couples showed up at the Arlington County Courthouse to apply for marriage licenses, which were denied on legal grounds. However, the Arlington County clerk of the court said he would keep the applications on file.
“We love each other very much, all we want is equal rights,” said Peggy Mangum, who applied for a marriage license on Valentine’s Day with her partner, Cindy Smith.
- See: Same-Sex Couples Apply for Marriage Licenses in Arlington on Valentine's Day
Just days later, a Virginia House subcommittee effectively killed House Joint Resolution 665, which sought to rescind that 2006 Virginia constitutional amendment Virginians.
- See: Virginia Lawmakers Fail to Repeal Gay Marriage Ban
In February, Patch ran a non-scientific poll asking readers if gay marriage should be legal in Virginia. The poll itself drew 143 votes (111 voting that it should be legal, and 32 saying it should not be legal); the story drew more than 580 comments.
- See: Gay Marriage in Virginia: About Time?