Posted at 9:38 PM ET by Dan Gilgoff
Yes, Virginia's ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage by amending the state constitution is expected to pass by wide marginswith 68 percent of precincts reporting, the initiative was winning by 59 percent to 41 percentbut some in the gay rights movement are calling it a qualified victory. They point out that the result in conservative Virginia is not too far off from what it was in 2004 in Oregon, a much more liberal state where a similar initiative passed with 57 percent, the lowest level of support for an anti-gay-marriage initiative until now.
"There has been a sea change in public opinion for marriage equality," National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director President Matt Foreman tells us. "If you would have said to anyone in 2004 that Virginia, home of the Confederacy, would do as well this year as Oregon, people would have said you were crazy." Foreman says that the gay rights movement stands its best chance of defeating one of this year's six state marriage amendments in Wisconsin.
But conservative religious activists aren't exactly worried. "This will end up passing by close to 60 percent," says Gary Marx, an influential Christian activist based in Virginia, of the marriage amendment there. "Anybody in the political world will tell you that this is a blowout. It may come to pass that just as many saw the Ohio amendment in 2004 as critical to President Bush's' victory, this amendment is going to be crucial to George Allen in Virginia." Marx predicts that all of this year's marriage amendments will pass but that a Colorado ballot initiative to create domestic partnerships for same-sex couples may also have a shot at passage, particularly with the possible demoralization of evangelical voters after the scandal involving Colorado Springs, Colo., megachurch pastor Ted Haggard.