The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 3, 2014

'Stunning' shift on gay marriage is changing political landscape

WASHINGTON — When the new attorney general in Virginia decided recently to oppose his state’s ban on gay marriage, it might have been dismissed as an isolated move by a Democrat seeking to reverse Republican policy. But it underscored the speed and breadth of a fundamental change in the country.

Public opinion on same-sex marriage is changing at breathtaking speed. Voters across the nation are dropping their opposition, and many state gay marriage bans just recently adopted are already coming under assault.

“On no issue in American life have opinions changed as fast as they have on gay rights,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster and political consultant. “It is truly a stunning development.”

The change is especially vexing for Republicans, who used the issue to get conservative voters to the polls just a decade ago and now are torn between their traditional stance and political base on one hand and the quickly changing political landscape on the other.

Among the most dramatic shifts are in politically key battleground states such as Virginia, which was a bellwether in the last two presidential elections.

The state’s newly elected attorney general, Democrat Mark Herring, announced recently that he’d join a lawsuit to overturn Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. It wasn’t just an abrupt reversal from his Republican predecessor, Ken Cuccinelli — who vehemently opposed gay marriage and who lost a bid for the governor’s office in November — it underscored a turn for the state itself.

The ban passed eight years ago with the support of 57 percent of the state’s voters, including Herring, who says his views on the issue have evolved. He’s not the only one to change his mind. Polls find that most other Virginians now support same-sex marriage, with 56 percent of likely voters opposing the state’s ban in an October poll by Virginia’s Christopher Newport University.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Congress racing to finish Congress races to finish veterans, highway bills

    July 31, 2014

  • Target New CEO [Duplicate] Target names Pepsi's Cornell as chairman, CEO MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Target has hired Pepsi executive Brian Cornell as its new chairman and CEO as it looks to recover from a huge data breach and troubles in Canada. Cornell replaces interim CEO John Mulligan, who is chief financial officer for the M

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brain wave monitoring is better gauge than using a focus group, study says To predict a large population’s likely response to something — a product, politician or policy — political consultants, marketing gurus and advertising execs have long favored the focus group. Ask a small segment of the target audience what it thinks

    July 31, 2014

  • Argentina slides into default as debt talks fail NEW YORK (AP) — The collapse of talks with U.S. creditors sent Argentina into its second debt default in 13 years and raised questions about what comes next for financial markets and the South American nation's staggering economy. A midnight Wednesd

    July 31, 2014

  • Exchange Bee Researcher [Duplicate] Bee researcher takes aim at central Minnesota park WAITE PARK — Crystal Boyd strained four bees, three flies and one leafhopper from a yellow pan trap, the third of 12 in a transect topping a granite outcrop in Quarry Park Scientific and Natural Area.She popped everything into a labeled, zip-top plas

    July 31, 2014 4 Photos

  • Cinema verite documentarian Robert Drew dies at 90 Filmmaker Robert Drew, a pioneer of the modern documentary who in "Primary" and other movies mastered the intimate, spontaneous style known as cinema verite and schooled a generation of influential directors that included D.A. Pennebaker and Albert M

    July 30, 2014

  • Homeowner killed, another injured in Vegas crime spree LAS VEGAS — A horrific carjacking and home invasion spree ended with two people dead and a woman in critical condition. One victim, Richard Ramos, a 59-year-old father of four, “fought to his death” to protect his wife and children from their attack

    July 30, 2014

  • Officer Shooting Minnesota-9 [Duplicate] UPDATE: Suspect in Minnesota officer killing in custody WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Police in Minnesota say a man wanted in the shooting death of an officer is in custody after being shot by police. St. Paul police spokesman Sgt. Paul Paulos says 39-year-old Brian Fitch Sr. got out of a minivan firing at

    July 30, 2014 4 Photos

  • Officer Shooting Minnesota-3 [Duplicate] Minnesota officer killed making traffic stop WEST ST. PAUL (AP) — A police officer in Minnesota was fatally shot Wednesday while making a traffic stop and authorities said they were searching for a suspect. Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick, 47, was shot about 12:20 p.m. after pulli

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Possible suspect caught in Minnesota cop shooting WEST ST. PAUL (AP) — A potential suspect in the shooting of a police officer in Minnesota has been captured. Minnesota Public Radio News reports that the officer was killed. Television news footage showed the man being pulled from his vehicle Wednes

    July 30, 2014