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Controversial issues appear on other states’ ballots

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 08:11


Americans nationwide voted yesterday on ballot measures regarding contentious points such as same-sex marriage, affirmative action and marijuana legalization.

At time of press, Maryland, Washington and Maine were expected to approve measures legalizing same-sex marriage, and Colorado and Washington were projected to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

If they do approve the measures, Maryland, Washington and Maine will become the first states to legalize same-sex marriage by a popular vote.

Washington’s legislature recently passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, but opponents of same-sex marriage gathered enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot.

A similar issue happened in Maryland, where Question 6 asked voters whether to uphold the Civil Marriage Protection Act passed by the legislature. In Maine, a win for Question 1 would overturn the state’s ban on gay marriage, which was enacted in 2009.

“It’s sad that it took this long — the civil rights movement is 50, 60, 70 years old, and we’re finally getting around to giving the same rights that everyone else has to same-sex couples,” Matthew Stofsky, a senior and Washington resident, said.

Minnesota also had a question on its ballot pertaining to the legalization of same-sex marriage. The state’s initiative, which did not pass, sought to amend the Minnesota state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

“[Minnesota’s initiative is] a constitutional amendment, which is really hard if not impossible to go back on,” freshman Julia Fowler, Tufts Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) treasurer, said.

All three ballot measures seeking to legalize same-sex marriage include protections for religious organizations and clergy, so they would not be required to perform same-sex marriages.

“[If all three are passed, it] would be very telling of what’s going to happen ... it seems like the general trend is more and more states are legalizing gay marriage, so if these three [were to pass], it might start a trend,” freshman Daniel Markbreiter, Tufts QSA’s freshman representative, said.

Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Arkansas voted yesterday on measures seeking to legalize marijuana, though Oregon’s and Arkansas’ measures appeared unlikely to pass at press time. The Arkansas measure, Issue No. 5, would legalize medical marijuana.

“I think having marijuana initiatives, particularly legalization passing, is sort of a sign to the federal administration and to other states that this is the [policy] that people on a basic level are moving towards,” junior Lauren Traitz, co-president of Tufts Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said.

Traitz said that she views states as a laboratory where new policies are tested, improved and demonstrated to the federal government.

“I think [the measure] gives legitimization to the medical marijuana field, which I think is really important
... Medical marijuana will be used for legitimate reasons, and then people can have recreational marijuana,” sophomore Julia Wedgle, who voted in Colorado, said.

Elsewhere, in Oklahoma voters approved State Question No. 759, which prohibits special treatment or discrimination based on race or sex in public employment, education or contracts, essentially banning many affirmative action programs.

“My sense is that it doesn’t have a national importance
... Most states have already come to terms with how to deal with diversity, so a few states like Oklahoma and Texas are just still pushing back,” Professor of Political Science Kent Portney said.

The issue of abortion showed up on the Florida ballot with Measure 6, which sought to amend the state constitution to ban the use of public funds for abortions or for health coverage that covers abortions. However, the measure did not pass.

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