No state has ever approved gay marriage at the ballot, but voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state will consider the issue and could either reject it -- as has been done in all 32 instances it's been on the ballot -- or embrace it for the first time in the nation's history.
"We don't believe this is just a live and let live proposition," Carroll Conley of the traditional coalition Protect Marriage Maine told Baptist Press. The coalition has run ads warning that if gay marriage is legalized, it will be taught in public schools as normative, as it has been in Massachusetts, where gay marriage has been legal for eight years. The ads also say religious liberty and free speech will suffer.
In Maine the initiative is known as Question 1; in Maryland, Question 6; and in Washington, Referendum 74. A "yes" vote on any of them legalizes gay marriage. Conley and traditional-minded leaders in the other states are urging "no" votes.
Elsewhere, Minnesota voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. And in Iowa, traditional groups are trying to oust state Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins, who is up for retention three years after the court legalized gay marriage in a unanimous 7-0 vote. In 2010 three of those judges lost a retention vote.
But gay marriage is only one of the issues on the ballot nationwide. Among the others:
-- Marijuana legalization will be considered in Colorado (Amendment 64), Oregon (Measure 80) and Washington state (I-502). No state allows the recreational usage of marijuana, and passage in any of the states would be historic. California considered marijuana legalization in a 2010 initiative but defeated it.
-- Medicinal marijuana is on the ballot in Arkansas (Issue 5) and Massachusetts (Question 3). Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.
-- A repeal of the death penalty will be considered in California (Proposition 34). The maximum punishment for murder would be replaced with life in prison without parole.
-- Physician-assisted suicide is on the ballot in Massachusetts (Question 2), which could join Oregon and Washington state in legalizing the controversial method.
-- Gambling is on the ballot in at least three states. In Maryland, Question 7 would allow a Las Vegas-style casino in Prince George's County and permit table-type gambling at the five casinos already in existence (those casinos have only slots). In Oregon, Measure 82 would allow non-tribal casinos and Measure 83 would authorize such a casino in Multnomah County. In Rhode Island, Questions 1 and 2 would permit slot parlors to add table games, thereby competing with casinos in Massachusetts.
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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