Public opinion poll results released yesterday reveal that Virginia voters are shifting their views on marriage.
In 2006, 57% of those voting approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting marriage–or any approximation of it, including civil unions–between same-gender-loving couples.
This is not unexpected. Nearly three-fourths of poll respondents between ages 18 and 29 approve of same-gender marriages. As more and more of these people enter adulthood, the positive trend is expected to continue–especially as those in the over 65 age cohort, only 22% of whom support same-gender marriage, die off.
So, for the moment, it is a close contest in Virginia, but it will continue to get easier. Still, repealing a constitutional amendment is a lengthy and perilous process in Virginia.
Cynics among us think this is why opponents pushed through the 2006 vote. At the time, there was little danger of marriage among same-gender-loving couples being approved in Virginia. The General Assembly already had adopted HB 751, a statutory version of the constitutional amendment. The opponents, however, wanted to stave off the inevitable for as long as possible–so they acted while they still could. It was, and is, a repeat, in different form and on a different subject, of massive resistance.
Of course, it also was an effort to continue the rightward trend on social issues begun in the earlier Bush years.
It is difficult not to feel some heartache, even bitterness, when one’s marriage, or one’s desire to marry, is subject to public referendum. Couples who have been together for many years justifiably feel wrongly judged. Couples who cared for or now care for–or want to adopt or foster–children wonder why their marriages are devalued by a society that claims to want stable homes for children.
We can take hope in the poll. History is on the side of opening up marriage to same-gender-loving people–just as history was on the side of those who ended the ban on inter-racial marriage.
In the meantime, however, we must continue to witness for justice and equality. That’s why it is important to share in the work of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia as well as Equality Virginia. If you have not yet signed up, here are links to their websites.
Take a few minutes today to connect, and join the mass movement that is reshaping Virginia. Public opinion is shifting, but it will take lots of work to change our constitution (and other laws, too). It will take all of us to create–and be–the change we seek.