Five Years After Banning It, Plurality Of Virginians Now Support Same-Sex Marriage

Five years ago, an Amendment to the Virginia Constitution defining marriage as being between one man and one woman passed via referendum with a 15% margin. That was, of course, a year when many states passed similar bans on same-sex marriage. Times have changed, however. Over the past several months there have been a number of polls showing that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, and a new poll shows that the Old Dominion isn’t far behind:

Virginians are closely divided over whether gay marriage should be legal, according to a new Washington Post poll, a striking result in a state that overwhelmingly agreed to amend its constitution to ban gay marriage just five years ago.

Forty-seven percent of Virginians say gay couples should be allowed to legally wed, and 43 percent are opposed, according to the poll. Fifty-five percent of Virginians say gay couples should be able to legally adopt children.

The results mirror a dramatic and rapid shift in national public opinion about gay rights in recent years. The evolving public opinion could create a challenge in the key political battleground for the commonwealth’s Republicans, who are almost universally opposed to gay marriage, if voters think the GOP is falling out of sync with the electorate. But the results also present complications for Virginia Democrats, who have moved more slowly than their national counterparts to embrace liberal social stands for fear of alienating independent voters.

The rather cumbersome process for amending the Virginia Constitution makes it unlikely we’ll see any repeal effort any time soon, but this is yet another indication that the time is coming when these foolish laws will be sent into the dustbin of history.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James Joyner says:

    Yup. And another example of why we shouldn’t put mundane matters of public policy into constitutions.

    Although, in this instance, it was at least understandable. This isn’t the sort of issue one wants decided by the whims of judges.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Tip of the hat toward the Old Dominion.

  3. Vast Variety says:

    this is yet another indication that the time is coming when these foolish laws will be sent into the dustbin of history.

    And not soon enough.

    Although, in this instance, it was at least understandable. This isn’t the sort of issue one wants decided by the whims of judges.

    Unfortunately, sometimes the whims of judges are all we have to fight this sort of discrimination.

  4. G.A.Phillips says:

    lol, James, I like the Climate Chang your sporting in your new pic…

  5. Jay Tea says:

    This is because there was a push to legalize gay marriage by any means necessary, and there was a push back by both the “no gay marriage” and my own faction, the “gay marriage, but done right” side. I support gay marriage, but was appalled by the way it was done in Massachusetts (judicial fiat) and San Francisco (mayoral fiat). Here in NH, we did it right — the legislature passed it, and the governor signed it.

    I probably would have been inclined to back the amendment, if only to head off the wrong ways that the supporters have been pushing. It’s simply not important enough an issue to completely toss out the system we have.

    Plus, when done legislatively, there’s at least a very strong indicator that there’s popular support for the move. If it’s done against the majority’s will (or, at least, seen as against their will by enough people), there will be backlash that will make the situation even worse.

    Such as the Amendment cited here.


  6. matt says:

    Yes it’s all the fault of the people being discriminated against.. If only those blacks would stay in the back of the oh wait wrong civil right. Your insistence on utilizing the argument of old confused me for a moment 😛

  7. Diego says:

    I’d love to see what the actual question of the poll were. People don’t change their mind on a subject like that in 5 years. I’d bet it was something like “should gays be able to gain the same legal benefits as married couples through a civil union?” or something similar, which no one I know has a problem with.

    But I agree also that State and Federal Government should just get out of the Marriage business and let the People deal with it on their own. Make everyone apply for a civil union if they want the benefits, but leave the weddings to the public.

  8. ptfe says:

    @Diego: You only need to click through the bonus link on the cited WaPo page to find out the question in this case was:

    “Do you think it should be LEGAL or ILLEGAL for gay couples to get married? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?”

    The “strongly legal” (30%) is beaten by the “strongly illegal” (35%), but the “somewhat legal” (17%) trumps the “somewhat illegal” (8%). And the issue polls as a function of age: 22% legal for 65+, 39% 50-64, 43% 40-49, 54% 30-39, 73% legal among 18-29. What surprises me there is that the 30-49 groups are still so behind on this one.

  9. mantis says:

    Shorter Jay Tea: Hey gay people, shut up and wait until we’re good and ready to consider you equal citizens. And if you try to get said equality on your own, well we’ll just have to change our constitution to discriminate against you. By the way, I’m totally on your side. No, really! Where are you going?