Social conservatives have made it hard for same-sex couples to gain recognition in Virginia, but change will come.
In 2006, foes of same-sex marriage campaigned successfully for Virginia’s marriage amendment as if the dogs of hell were snarling at the heels of a social institution, ready to bring it down.
Nothing of the kind was true, of course. Even those social conservatives who view marriages between gay men or lesbians as a threat, somehow, to heterosexual marriage had no reason to worry that change was imminent in the Old Dominion.
Just two years earlier, state lawmakers had passed a law that bans not just same-sex marriage and civil unions in this state, but recognition of those performed in states where they are legal. A year later, legislators started the two-year process to put a state constitutional amendment before Virginia voters. It passed by a wide margin, 57 percent to 43.
That success seemed to be designed to build a legal fortification against the eventual, inevitable recognition that same-sex couples deserve the same rights and should bear the same responsibilities as heterosexual couples. Opponents had rushed to make it as difficult as possible for change to come to Virginia.
Foes of marriage equality proved to be right in just one way: The popular will is shifting rapidly.