While history will focus on Barack Obama winning a second term as president, equally historic elections were taking place on state-level issues across the country.
For the first time, Maine and Maryland passed by popular vote referendums giving gays the right to marry. Minnesota voters also defeated a proposal to ban same-sex marriage, and a Washington state vote on legalizing gay marriage appeared to be on its way to victory, though it has not yet been officially certified.
Washington also made waves in another area of social policy yesterday, along with Colorado: both states legalized marijuana possession. In Washington, a system of state-licensed growers, processors, and stores will allow customers to buy up to an ounce of marijuana, while in Colorado, people will be allowed to grow up to six plans in private, secure areas. The Colorado referendum also decriminalizes possession of an ounce or less of marijuana.
It’s tough to say what the long-term effects of these votes will be. The federal government still classifies marijuana as illegal, which many California medical marijuana dispensaries discovered recently when they were raided by federal authorities. Same-sex marriage will almost certainly come up in the U.S. Supreme Court soon (likely with regards to the Defense of Marriage Act), at a time when the majority of Americans have finally began to support it.
For now, though, supporters of these measures are basking in the light of hard-fought victories, ones they hope are harbingers for the future and not blips on the radar.
– Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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