SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP)--One week removed from Election Day, a handful of races still have not been decided that could impact everything from the future of "gay marriage" in America to the pace of medicinal marijuana legalization.
Leading the way is the California attorney general's race, where The San Francisco Chronicle reported that approximately 2 million ballots remain to be counted in a contest that pits Republican Steve Cooley -- who has said he would defend Prop 8 in federal court -- against Democrat Kamala Harris, who backs "gay marriage" and says she would not defend the proposition, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Cooley trailed the day after the election but had about a 51,000-vote lead through the morning of Nov. 9, an edge that could flip back to Harris at any time because of the high number of uncounted ballots. Election officials have until Nov. 30 to count the votes.
The Cooley-Harris race is being closely monitored by both supporters and opponents of "gay marriage" because the outgoing attorney general -- Democrat Jerry Brown -- refused to defend Proposition 8 in a high-profile federal court case, leaving its defense up to attorneys for ProtectMarriage.com, which sponsored Prop 8. A Cooley victory and subsequent action on Prop 8 would help conservatives because there is some question as to whether ProtectMarriage.com has legal standing to defend Prop 8. A Cooley defense of Prop 8 also would add some legal weight to the case for supporters.
In May, Cooley criticized Brown, saying the attorney general "should defend it as a matter of his or her oath of office."
"You can't pick and choose; the public voted it in, it's the majority," Cooley told SanDiegoNewsroom.com.
Harris said on her website that as attorney general she would be "committed to doing everything" within her power "to repeal Prop 8."
The federal case would lead to similar laws being overturned in other states and "gay marriage" being legalized nationwide.
But the California attorney general's race isn't the only undecided race nationwide. Among the others:
-- The New York Senate -- key to the success of a "gay marriage" bill -- may swing to Republican control if the current count in three undecided races remains the same. In one, Republican Jack Martins leads by 415 votes, and in the other, Republican Mark Grisanti is ahead by 468 votes. The third one has Democrat Suzi Oppenheimer up by 466 votes. Republicans need to win two of the three to claim a 32-30 seat majority. A GOP majority likely would block any "gay marriage" bill from advancing. There are thousands of uncounted absentee ballots and it could be weeks before it is clear who controls the Senate, WNYC radio reported.
-- The Iowa Senate won't change from Democrat to Republican control, but the GOP did gain seats and could force a 25-25 tie if two undecided races fall their way. In one race, Republican Mark Chelgren leads by 13 votes out of about 20,000 cast. In the other race, Democrat Tod Bowman leads by 38 votes, also out of about 20,000 votes. Absentee ballots are being tallied, and recounts in both races are possible. Republicans took control of the Iowa House, and a constitutional marriage amendment that had been blocked by Democratic leaders is now likely to pass that chamber. But its prospects in the Senate remain unclear, with Democratic Majority Leader Mike Gronstal saying he remains committed to preventing a vote on it. Iowa's Supreme Court legalized "gay marriage" in 2009. The marriage amendment, if approved by voters, would reverse the decision.
-- Arizona Prop 203, which would legalize medicinal marijuana, remains undecided as thousands of ballots remain uncounted. As of the morning of Nov. 9, it trailed by 3,634 votes out of about 1.5 million ballots.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.
Copyright (c) 2010 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net