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Maine, Maryland vote to legalize gay marriage

By David Crary

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 7 2012 1:58 a.m. MST

The president of the most active advocacy group opposing same-sex marriage, Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, insisted the Maryland and Maine results did not mark a watershed moment.

"At the end of the day, we're still at 32 victories and they've got two," he said. "Just because two extreme blue states vote for gay marriage doesn't mean the Supreme Court will create a constitutional right for it out of thin air."

In Minnesota, the question on the ballot was whether the state would join 30 others in placing a ban on gay marriage in its constitution, and the contest was extremely close with most votes counted. Even if the ban was defeated, same-sex marriage would remain illegal in Minnesota under statute.

Heading into the election, gay marriage was legal in six states and the District of Columbia — in each case the result of legislation or court orders, not by a vote of the people.

In all, there were 176 measures on the ballots Tuesday in 38 states, according to the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California.

Other notable ballot measures:

— Maryland voters approved a measure allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition, provided they attended a state high school for three years and can show they filed state income tax returns during that time. About a dozen other states have similar laws, but Maryland's is the first to be approved by voters.

— In Oklahoma, voters approved a Republican-backed measure that wipes out all affirmative action programs in state government hiring, education and contracting practices. Similar steps have been taken previously in Arizona, California, Michigan, Nebraska and Washington.

— In Michigan, labor unions suffered a big loss. Voters rejected a first-of-its-kind ballot initiative that would have put collective bargaining rights in the state constitution.

— Florida voters rejected a proposal that would have banned government mandates for obtaining insurance such as required by President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Floridians also rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have limited revenue growth

— California voters approved a measure modifying the nation's harshest three strikes law to allow for shorter sentences for some offenders. Under Proposition 36, an offender's third felony conviction now must be a serious or violent crime to mandate an automatic sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Previously, any felony conviction — even for a relatively minor offense — triggered the automatic sentence for an offender with two previous felony convictions for serious or violent crimes.

Follow David Crary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CraryAP

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