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‘Stunning’ shift on gay marriage is changing political landscape

BY SEAN COCKERHAM
MCCLATCHY WASHINGTON BUREAU

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.

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