(by Keith J. Winstein, The Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com) – Maine voters rejected a law allowing same-sex couples to marry in a closely fought referendum that saw unexpectedly high turnout.
Rolling back the law is a setback for gay-rights advocates and makes Maine the third state in which residents reversed their government’s decision to permit gay marriages, after California and Hawaii.
Same-sex marriage has yet to win a popular vote in any state, despite a recent string of wins in the New England region. The other states that grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples — Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont — have done so via legislative vote or judicial ruling, and New Hampshire will grant such marriages starting in January after a vote by its legislature. The federal government and most other states don’t recognize same-sex marriages.
Maine currently grants domestic-partnership status to same-sex couples, along with about seven other states. The state’s legislature voted in May to allow gays to marry each other, but an opposition petition campaign led the measure’s implementation to be delayed and submitted to a popular referendum Tuesday.
In Washington state, voters appeared poised to approve the expansion of rights granted to gay couples under the state’s domestic-partnership registry.
Earlier this year, the state passed a law to expand domestic partnerships to have the same rights as marriages under state law. Early returns showed 51% approving of the expanded status, compared with 49% who voted to reduce the rights of same-sex domestic partners.
Also Tuesday, Mainers approved a measure to broaden the state’s medical-marijuana law to allow nonprofit organizations to dispense marijuana to the sick.
Write to Keith J. Winstein at email@example.com.
1. Define referendum. (read the “Background” below the questions for the answer)
2. In which states besides Maine have voters reversed the state legislature’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage?
3. Through ballot measures in how many states has same-sex marriage been rejected by the voters? (see “Background” below the question for the answer)
4. In how many states has same-sex marriage become law through a vote of the people?
5. a) Name the states in which same-sex marriage is legal.
b) How has it become legal in these states?
6. The AP reports “Gay marriage has never won at the ballot box in any state.” Why do you think this is so?
7. Were there any ballot measures voted on in your state this year? If so, ask a parent how he/she voted and to explain their choice.
(Visit the iandrinstitute website for the results – scroll down for results by state.)
SAME SEX MARRIAGE IN MAINE:
SAME SEX MARRIAGE ACROSS THE COUNTRY (from the Initiative and Referendum Institute -iandrinstitute.org/BW%202009-2%20Results%20%28v1%29.pdf)
INITIATIVES AND REFERENDUMS:
NOTE: The terms above are all forms of “direct democracy” practiced by various states. Read an explanation of direct democracy at Wikipedia.org.
For the results of 2009 ballot measures across the country, go to iandrinstitute.org/BW%202009-2%20Results%20%28v1%29.pdf.
Read an explanation of ballot measures (initiatives and referendums) at the Initiative and Referendum website iandrinstitute.org.