Virginia is being called a “gay rights battleground.” Don’t be surprised if Montana is next.
In the tough campaign for Governor and Lt. Governor of Virginia (candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor run separately in Virginia), the issue of equal marriage has taken center stage. In the past and present, Virginia Republicans have made the usual, but horribly offensive assertions that homosexuals and pedophiles are one in the same and if gay people are allowed to marry, society will crumble.
However, in 2013, Republicans are being called “divisive” and “dangerous” for using the same sound bites that used to win them political points. And the GOP is starting to feel the pain. 56% of Virginians now support equal marriage and Democrats running for statewide office are not shying away from the civil rights issue – they’re embracing it.
That is a huge shift for a state that voted to ban homosexual marriage through a constitutional amendment in 2006.
It’s hard not to make comparisons to Montana.
In 2004, Montanans voted to ban same-sex marriages through a constitutional amendment. At the time, the ballot measure enjoyed broad support. However, statewide Democrats and legislators have rapidly “evolved” on the issue. Senators Baucus and Tester now favor equal marriage and so does former Governor Brian Schweitzer.
The latest polling also shows public opinion shifting in favor of equality. In just one year, support for equal marriage in Montana jumped from 37% to 43% and 64% of Montanans favor legal recognition for same-sex couples.
Montana has also seen two nondiscrimination ordinances put into law – one in Missoula and one in Helena.
During the 2013 session, the whole “gay sex should be illegal” thing was also a big loser for Republicans.
Democrats are trumpeting their support for equal marriage, while Republicans seem much less willing to talk about the issue signaling that they no longer see it as a winning issue in Big Sky Country.
These are all positive signs that Montana is moving in the right direction. It’s plausible that Montana could be the next “gay rights battleground” if we aren’t already.
God. Gays. And Guns.