Just over five years ago I wrote this about the Virginia constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage:
So we’re going to spend a lot of time and effort into passing a constitutional amendment to ban something that’s already illegal, only to have the state collectively slap itself on the forehead in 5-10 years when everybody realizes what assholes they’ve been. The religious right will realize that they’ve opened the door to having Christianity regulated by government, while true conservatives will realize that contractual rights have been dealt a huge blow. And then we’ll need another constitutional amendment, which will take another couple of years and cost a whole lot more money. In the meantime, we’ll needlessly marginalize 5-10% of the state’s population and quite likely create some huge headaches and heartaches for thousands of people.
I’m not speculating that this will happen — I’m certain that it will happen. It’s as certain as the end of slavery, women getting the vote and the end of Jim Crow.
That amendment, you’ll recall, passed in November 2006, with 57% of the vote.
Today, the Washington Post reported on the results of their survey of 1,180 adult Virginians, in which they found that 47% of Virginians support gay marriage and just 43% oppose it. (With a 3.5% MoE, this is actually a tie, though I allowed myself a little gloating in the headline.) These results aren’t totally surprising, since this is the same shift that’s occurred nationally in the same time period. The big source is my own generation. Most young folks think that gay marriage should be legal. Most old folks think it should be illegal. As those old folks become dead folks, and more young folks come along, there’s every reason to think that these numbers will keep right on rising.
So here we are. We’ve needlessly marginalized 5–10% of the state’s population, creating some huge headaches and heartaches for thousands of people. How long will we wait to fix this? We could be ahead of the curve, we could wait to do it when all of the other states are fixing their own constitutions, or we could wait until it’s a source of state shame—say, another decade or so—and then be humiliated into making this right. I’m pretty sure I know which route Virginia will go with.