More than half of all Virginians now support gay marriage, just six and a half years after the commonwealth voted in favor of a constitutional amendment to outlaw it, a new poll shows.
The Washington Post survey
also showed a definite shift away from conservative positions on other subjects including gun rights, abortion, and immigration.
The attitudes toward gay marriage have made the most definite shift, the poll revealed, with 56 percent of voters in the commonwealth saying same-sex marriages should be legal. Those numbers are up from 46 percent two years ago, and mark a large shift from 2006, when 57 percent of voters approved an amendment banning same-sex marriages.
The poll even shows a change in how Republican voters think about same-sex marriages, with 40 percent saying they should be legal. Nearly half — 47 percent — of the Republicans polled still think gay marriage should be outlawed, but in 2006, 85 percent of Republican voters thought same-sex marriages should be banned.
The poll is out just days before Republicans will gather at a convention to choose their nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general. The decision to hold the convention was a victory for the party's right wing. Moderates wanted the candidates to be chosen in primaries.
Other parts of the poll reflect a swing to the center. For example, nine of 10 Virginians support background checks for gun purchases made online or at a gun show — and those numbers include 82 percent of Republicans polled.
In addition, 59 percent of those polled said it is possible to enact gun-control laws without interfering with gun rights, while 34 percent said the laws would violate their rights. But 53 percent said it's more important to start new gun control laws than to protect the rights to own firearms.
In another issue, the poll showed 55 percent of Virginians say abortion should be legal. The partisan divide was clear, though, with 69 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of independents, and 39 percent of Republicans in support.
Republicans still oppose a "path to citizenship" for undocumented immigrants, while a large majority of Democrats favored the idea.
The poll was taken for the Post by telephone between April 29 and May 2, 2013 from a random sample of 1,000 adults.
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