Maine, Maryland vote to legalize gay marriage; Minn. results unclearVoters a continent apart made history Tuesday on two divisive social issues, with Maine and Maryland becoming the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote and Washington state legalizing recreational use of marijuana.
By: David Crary , The Associated Press
Voters a continent apart made history Tuesday on two divisive social issues, with Maine and Maryland becoming the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote and Washington state legalizing recreational use of marijuana.
The outcomes in Maine and Maryland broke a 32-state streak, dating back to 1998, in which gay marriage had been rebuffed by every state that voted on it. They will become the seventh and eighth states to legalize gay marriage.
“For the first time, voters in Maine and Maryland voted to allow loving couples to make lifelong commitments through marriage - forever taking away the right-wing talking point that marriage equality couldn’t win on the ballot,” said Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights group.
Washington state also was voting on a measure to legalize same-sex marriage, while Minnesota voters were considering a conservative-backed amendment that would place a ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution.
The outcomes could possibly influence the U.S. Supreme Court, which will soon be considering whether to take up cases challenging the law that denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages.
The marijuana measure in Washington sets up a showdown with the federal government, which outlaws the drug. The measure establishes a system of state-licensed marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, where adults over 21 can buy up to an ounce. It also establishes a standard blood test limit for driving under the influence.
The measure was notable for its sponsors and supporters, who ranged from public health experts and wealthy high-tech executives to two of the Justice Department’s top former officials in Seattle, U.S. Attorneys John McKay and Kate Pflaumer.
“Marijuana policy reform remains an issue where the people lead and the politicians follow,” said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which opposes the co-called “war on drugs.”