“I believe everyone should be treated fairly,” the former Democratic National Committee chair said in response to a question on the subject during a Google chat. “I personally favor civil marriage for committed couples of the same-sex.”
McAuliffe’s comments come a week after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, against whom he will likely face in the commonwealth’s gubernatorial election later this year, reaffirmed his opposition to nuptials for gays and lesbians during an appearance on News Talk with Bruce DePuyt.
Gay advocates on Feb. 14 gathered in Arlington, Charlottesville, Hampton, Richmond and Winchester to rally against the state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that Virginia voters approved in 2006. A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee last month killed a bill sponsored by state Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) that would have repealed the Marshall-Newman Amendment.
“I understand that this is an issue that Virginians of goodwill come down on both sides of and it is an issue where, like many Virginians, my views have changed from earlier in my life,” McAuliffe said. “Regardless of where you stand on this issue, one thing Dorothy (his wife) and I consistently hear is that people are tired of issues like this being used to divide people especially when we face such important economic challenges here in Virginia.”
Equality Virginia applauded McAuliffe’s comments in a brief statement.
“Any time any public figure comes out in support of LGBT rights, it is a huge step in moving the community forward,” the LGBT advocacy group said.
Surovell also welcomed them.
“McAuliffe will be the first Virginia gubernatorial candidate to support same-sex marriage,” he noted to the Washington Blade. “I’m pleased to see that voters will have a clear choice to make.”
Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) agreed.
“That’s the kind of direct and honest answer Virginians can expect from Terry McAuliffe,” he told the Blade.
A Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday shows McAuliffe and Cuccinelli tied with 38 percent of Virginia voters supporting them. The former DNC chair would have a three point lead over the attorney general if Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling were in the race.
A spokesperson for Cuccinelli’s campaign did not immediately return the Blade’s requests for comment.