Campaign signs for and against two California initiatives in Sacramento.(Photo: Rich Pedroncelli, AP)
Maine, Maryland and Washington made history Tuesday, becoming the first states in which voters legalized same-sex marriage.
bill allowing same-sex marriages in Maine passed in 2009, but opponents
petitioned for a referendum on the issue and that year 53% of voters
In Maryland a referendum had sought to overturn a law
approving same-sex marriage passed earlier this year by the
Legislature. A similar vote was underway in Washington state.
Minnesota, voters were being asked whether the state's constitution
should ban same-sex marriage, a step beyond the state's existing law
against gay marriage.
Across the nation, voters in 38 states were deciding sweeping ballot
initiatives on everything from same-sex marriage and recreational
marijuana use to whether genetically engineered foods should be labeled.
32 states have voted to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples while
while six others New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire and Vermont and the District of Columbia have legalized it
either by legislation or a judicial ruling.
Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana.
recreational use of marijuana was also up for a vote in Oregon, but
voters rejected a ballot measure seeking to regulate marijuana like
alcohol. Two other states were considering allowing pot use for medical
The Washington measure that was adopted would allow
adults to possess small amounts of marijuana and also allow its sale to
be regulated and taxed. Estimates have showed pot taxes could bring in
hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but the sales won't start until
state officials make rules to govern the legal weed industry.
the marijuana votes in the three states represented a pushback against
the federal government, which backs the drug's prohibition.
residents approved a new law legalizing medical marijuana for people
with cancer, hepatitis C, Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease,
glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis and other
conditions. The state becomes the 18th to do so. Arkansas voters are
considering a similar law.
In California, voters were deciding
whether to repeal the state's death penalty and replace it with life in
prison without the possibility of parole. If passed, the 726 inmates on
death row in the state would have their sentences commuted to life in
prison. If so, California would become one of only two states in which
voters have repealed the death penalty. The other is Oregon. In the 17
states where capital punishment is outlawed, the change came through
Big spending on food issue
voters also were determining whether the state should become the first
to require that foods made from genetically modified ingredients be
labeled. The closely watched race sparked a backlash from agribusiness
and chemical conglomerates, which spent at least $44 million in a bid to
defeat Proposition 37.
School funding also was a major issue in
California, with dueling propositions on the ballot. One, sponsored by
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, could bring in up to $9 billion a year.
San Francisco, voters decided whether to consider draining an
89-year-old reservoir in Yosemite National Park that provides water to
2.6 million people in order to restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley to its
former natural state.
In a tight race, Maryland voters were
considering whether to expand gambling to include table games such as
blackjack and roulette at the state's three existing casinos and the
addition of a new casino near the nation's capital, in Prince George's
County. More than $90 million had been spent on the gambling initiative
by opponents and supporters, an unprecedented amount in Maryland for a
Tax limits at stake
voters rejected a constitutional amendment limiting tax revenue growth
to increases in population and inflation. The proposal was based on a
similar provision in Colorado.
Idaho voted on whether to approve
a major school overhaul that would include phasing out teacher tenure,
implementing merit pay and limiting collective-bargaining rights for
A vote in Massachusetts on whether terminally
ill patients can legally get drugs from a physician to end their lives
was too close to call early today. The issue had been hotly debated in
the heavily Catholic state. Similar laws have passed in Oregon and
Thirty-four states prohibit assisted suicide
outright, while Massachusetts and six others ban it through common law.
Montana's Supreme Court ruled that state law doesn't prohibit doctors
from helping patients die.
Fight over a bridge
a new bridge between Detroit and Canada can be built was on the ballot
in Michigan. Manuel Moroun, the billionaire owner of Detroit's
Ambassador Bridge, spent more than $30 million on a constitutional
amendment designed to thwart construction of a rival bridge.
The state also was considering a law requiring two-thirds legislative support for tax hikes.
New Hampshire, voters decided whether to add a ban on a state income
tax a tax the state doesn't have to their constitution.
proposal to phase out the estate tax was on the ballot in Oregon. The
tax starts at 10% for married couples with $2 million in non-farm