Monday, December 26, 2011

Virginia Inches Toward Marriage Equality

A bare majority of Virginia voters say they oppose gay marriage, just 53%. This is according to a recent poll by Public Policy Polling. Virginians tend to be conservative. The poll shows that only 24% define themselves as very liberal, or somewhat liberal, compared to 42% who are in the conservative camp. One third, 34%, say they are moderates.

34% of voters there fully support marriage equality. Only 38% of Virginians oppose any kind of legal recognition for gay couples while 28% will accept marriage-lite, in the form of civil unions. Total support for some sort of legal recognition of same-sex relationships stands 62%.

The key for the direction in which is going is the total percentage supporting both civil unions and full marriage equality. All the trends have shown that people who support civil unions start coming around to full marriage rights rather quickly. Civil unions are the half-way house for people, where they pause and take a breath before embracing full equality.

There are also reasons to suspect that support for marriage equality is higher than they indicate in this poll. According to their site 20% of the people they polled are over the age of 65, a generation that is very unsupportive of equal rights. But, according to the US Census, 12.2% of the state population falls into this age category. And it appears that younger voters, who tend to favor marriage equality, were under polled. About 20% of the population falls into that age group, but only 14% in this poll did. In general older voters were over represented in the poll.

Even among those who define themselves as "very conservative" 17% say they support either marriage equality or civil unions. For those who are "somewhat conservative" the figure jumps to 46%. For moderates it is 70%, for "somewhat liberal" it is 87% and for "very liberal" it drops to 78%. Among women support for legal recognition was 61%, for men it was 56%. And according to political identification, 70% of Democrats favor some form of marriage equality—41% for full equality and 29% for civil unions. For Republicans 14% support marriage equality and 25% support civil unions, a totla of 39%. With independent voters the total is 37% for marriage, 29% for civil unions, or 66% support for one of the two.

The trending is all in the right direction which means it is just a mater of time before full marriage equality has majority support in Virginia.

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