Virginia Next Battleground on Gay Marriage

Friday, 19 Apr 2013 10:21 AM

By Kenneth Hanner

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Gay marriage will be highlighted in Virginia this year during the state’s gubernatorial campaign, which features candidates in decidedly opposite camps on the issue.

In fact, the race will feature the first Democratic candidate for governor in southern political history who endorses same-sex marriage, according to Politico.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who opposed gay marriage during his losing 2009 bid for governor, has shifted, along with most members of his party, and now backs a federal constitutional amendment to allow same-sex marriage.

Republican Ken Cuccinelli, when he was a state senator, was instrumental in the 2006 campaign to ban same-sex marriage in Virginia and has enforced that position as the state attorney general.

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Voters passed an amendment to the state constitution in 2006 that banned same-sex marriages on a 57 percent to 43 percent vote.The amendment also denied recognition to gay marriages legally performed in other states.

In March, McAuliffe told a dinner hosted by Equality Virginia, a gay-rights advocacy group, that he changed his views in February after discussing the issue with his wife.

“A lot of the debate around ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ really enlightened me,” said McAuliffe, The Richmond Times Dispatch reported.

Last year, Cuccinelli was one of 15 state attorneys general who filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to review a federal appellate court decision that said the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.

The gay marriage issue could be nullified by the time Virginia voters get around to casting ballots for governor in November; the Supreme Court will issue its rulings on DOMA, as well as California’s gay marriage ban, by the summer.

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