Friday, July 22, 2011

In Virginia, Shifting Attitudes on Gay Rights

Polling numbers from the most recent Qunnipiac University study show at least one result in Virginia that should raise eyebrows: Although the population is not yet ready for gay couples to be married couples, it accepts the simple fact that being gay does not preclude being a good parent.

(Qunnipiac is a tiny liberal arts college in Hamden, Conn., with an excellent reputation for polling.)

It was five years ago that Virginians set in stone the ban on gay marriage with an amendment to the Commonwealth's constitution, but the support for refusing couples that right stands at just 52 percent today. For Virginians younger than 35, the support for gay marriage is 63 percent to 29 percent who oppose. It's coming, people. It's coming in Virginia.

More surprising, though, is that Virginians of all ages believe the law that forbids gay people from adopting children is stupid. Fifty-one percent agree that gay couples should be allowed to adopt.

These simple attitude shifts represent an enormous change in attitude, much like that which took place after landmark civil rights legislation was passed by the Congress in the 1960s. Yesterday, the nation's new defense secretary, Leon Panetta, said gays could serve openly in the military, erasing yet another barrier to these beleaguered citizens being able to live normal lives.

In unrelated, but interesting findings by Qunnipiac, Republican George Allen leads among independent voters 46-38 over Democrat Tim Kaine in their race for Jim Webb's seat, which will be vacated. Overall, though, owing to a larger number of registered Democrats, I'd guess, Kaine leads 43-42. Both are former governors.

On other issues, Virginians trend conservative as you might expect, except when it comes to extracting ourselves from wars. We want out of Afghanistan 55-38 and Libya 60-38. By a 49 percent to 42 percent margin, Virginians want to repeal the Obama Administration's health care law (liberals support the law 75-19 and conservatives oppose it 73-17).


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