Same-sex marriage poll shows need for change, group says

Posted at 2:04 PM, Jul 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-11 14:04:50-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) - Seven years after the Virginia General Assembly passed a constitutional amendment prohibiting same sex marriage in the Commonwealth, opinions may be shifting.

A new poll released by the Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBT advocacy group, found 55 percent of Virginians polled supported same sex marriage.  Researchers also found 71 percent of respondents under the age of 30 support gay marriage.

The bipartisan poll was done by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Target Point Consulting from June 26-30, 2013.

Support for same-sex marriage varied in different parts of Virginia, the poll found.

  • 68 percent in Northern Virginia support same-sex marriage
  • 53 percent in Central Virginia support same-sex marriage
  • 51 percent in Eastern Virginia support same-sex marriage

"There is no question we're making movement when it comes to fairness and equality across the country," Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said.

He added the poll showed Virginia is closely following national trends, and needed to rethink marriage equality policy.

Opponents said the reliance on polling to gauge broad public opinion is a slippery slope.

"I think the longer I've been involved with politics, the more and more dismissive I've become of simple polling," Family Foundation of Virgina policy analyst Jessica Cochrane said.

Cochrane said the Family Foundation of Virginia supports traditional marriage, between a man and a woman, because children thrive best in those family units.  Cochrane added that instead of speaking through polls, voters have made their voices heard at ballot boxes.

"The real polling that matters is when people go to the ballots and actually vote.  What you'll see is an overwhelming majority of states where people have rejected same sex marriage," Cochrane said.

Political experts told CBS 6 changing the constitutional amendment that bans same sex marriage in Virginia will be unlikely in the current political climate.  Republicans control the House of Delegates, so CBS 6 political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said any changes will not happen next session.

The topic may become an important issue in the governor's race, Holsworth said.

CBS 6 reached out to both the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor.

Attorney General and Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli's office released this statement:

"Ken Cuccinelli has always believed that marriage should be between one man and one woman, and he will continue to defend the definition of traditional marriage under Virginia's Constitution. While Ken has been consistent and clear on this issue, Terry McAuliffe has been eager to attack his opponent, but failed to take a position on the issue much like so many others.  McAuliffe’s argument is intellectually dishonest and will be seen as cravenly self-serving by voters in the Commonwealth.” -Anna Nix, Press Secretary for Ken Cuccinelli

Democrat Terry McAuliffe's campaign responded with this statement:

"Terry supports marriage equality but he understands that this is an issue that Virginians of goodwill come down on both sides of. Terry believes we must make Virginia the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family for all Virginians." -Josh Schwerin, Terry McAuliffe campaign.