Five years after banning it, plurality in Virginia now support gay marriage

Forty-seven percent of Virginians say gay couples should be allowed to legally wed, and 43 percent are opposed, according to the poll. Fifty-five percent of Virginians say gay couples should be able to legally adopt children.

The results mirror a dramatic and rapid shift in national public opinion about gay rights in recent years. The evolving public opinion could create a challenge in the key political battleground for the commonwealth’s Republicans, who are almost universally opposed to gay marriage, if voters think the GOP is falling out of sync with the electorate. But the results also present complications for Virginia Democrats, who have moved more slowly than their national counterparts to embrace liberal social stands for fear of alienating independent voters.

In 2006, 57 percent of voters agreed that Virginia should add language to the state constitution prohibiting marriage — or any approximation of the institution, including civil unions — between same-sex couples.