Gay Marriage, Pot Legalization And Ending The Death Penalty Among Major State Ballot Measures

Once you get past Obama, Romney and the house and senate races, your ballot might start to get very interesting. Voters will decide on a host of issues including gay marriage, marijuana, and ending the death penalty.

Don't stop voting once you have decided between Obama and Romney--there's more to this election than choosing a president, senator and representative. Gay marriage, recreational use of marijuana and the fate of unions are all being put in the hands of the voters at the state level. Some of these questions are going to the voters because they are too politically radioactive for most elected officials to handle.

Maine, Maryland and Washington State will decide if gay couples can legally marry, while Minnesota will vote whether or not to restrict initiatives that would allow for gay marriage. Gay marriage is a dismal 0 for 33 at the ballot box, but six states and the District of Colombia allow gay marriage through decisions by judges and legislators. Maine and especially Maryland and Washington are all liberal states, and gay marriage activists are hopeful that at least one will break the losing streak. For whatever reason, voters have always been hesitant to grant other people the same civil rights that they enjoy. Maybe they are worried that if all the gays get married, there won’t be any marriage left for everyone else.

Six states are weighing in on the reasons their citizens are allowed to get high. Colorado, Washington State and Oregon are each considering bills to legalize marijuana for recreational use. No prescription needed, just the will to toke, and an ID saying you are over 21. Each of those states already has a robust market in the forbidden plant (they also love groovy music and snacks), and these bills would bring that money back into the regular, taxable economy. One group likely to vote no: dealers. Should these bills pass, prices for bud would go on a major downer. Massachusetts is expected to pass a bill legalizing medical marijuana, and Arkansas is expected to fail a similar bill. Montana, which allows medical marijuana, is considering tightening the restrictions on who can use it.

Floridians will have to decide if public money should not be used to fund abortions (note to Floridians, you are actually deciding if poor people will be able to have safe abortions) and California is considering ending the death penalty. The nation’s most populous state is also considering repealing its onerous three-strikes law, a budget saving measure that would tax the rich to prevent cuts to higher education (please), and a sneakily worded bill that would restrict the ability of unions to give money to political campaigns. Mysteriously, it exempts major corporations from the same restrictions (and by pure coincidence, the exempted corps are funding the ballot measure).

Wherever you live, once you have voted for president, keep reading. The fun stuff is at the back of the ballot.

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