Important Ballot Measure Victories

In addition to Obama being reelected, a bunch of very important ballot measure victories were apparently won around the country (these are not final results, but most of the votes had been counted). Four states had same-sex marriage referendums on the ballot and equality won all four of them.

Maine, Maryland and Washington will all have marriage equality now. Minnesota defeated an attempt to ban same-sex marriage, but they still need to repeal the state law prohibiting it. This is a huge, huge turning point in the battle for equality. After 32 successful referendums to ban same-sex marriage, the tide has clearly turned. Public opinion has shifted massively on the issue, and what was a benefit to Republicans in driving people to the polls in 2004 is now going to be a detriment. By 2016, there will begin to be referendums to repeal the bans passed in 2004 and 2008 in many states — and those ballot measures will drive voters to the polls to cast a ballot for equality, not against it.

And Washington and Colorado also legalized marijuana for recreational use. Oregon, however, defeated a referendum to do that, which means we must now revoke their status as a hippie/hipster haven. You’re losing serious cool points here, Oregon.

And Florida defeated three very bad ballot measures. One would have banned the use of taxpayer funds for abortion services, a second would have prevented the penalties used to enforce the health care reform bill (probably would have been struck down anyway), and a third would have repealed the state’s ban on taxpayer funding for churches. All of them went down. Very cool.


  1. tbp1 says

    God knows there is still a lot of dysfunction in the US, but this is very encouraging. I’m spending a certain amount of time on the right wing websites today, and it’s fun, in a schadenfreude kinda way to watch the heads explode.

  2. Randomfactor says

    And California mostly done good, raising taxes to save what’s left of the state’s educational system where the crippled state legislature could not act.

  3. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    You’re losing serious cool points here, Oregon.

    Well, I think those points have really been on the outs since I moved away this summer. While I’m nominally a resident of Oregon as an ex-pat with a permanent address there, all my time is now out of the country. And, hey, what state couldn’t be made better by a Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death and Her Handmaiden?

  4. Taz says

    By 2016, there will begin to be referendums to repeal the bans passed in 2004 and 2008 in many states

    I hope Michigan is one of them.

  5. imrryr says

    I was a bit worried that question 6 wouldn’t pass, but now I can be proud of my home state for something other than it simply having the craziest flag.

    @John – No matter how these measures fared, I can assure you that additional loonyness from the right is guaranteed.

  6. raven says

    Xpost from Mano Singham’s blog:

    Looks like the gay hating is on its way out. I always thought it was a waste of time anyway.

    1. Are there gays living on my road?

    Sure. It’s a long road.

    2. Are they married? Who knows, who cares? None of my business and nothing that effects me one way or another.

    I doubt the christofascists really cared either. They just need someone to hate. Fundie xianity is based on pure hate.

    No hate = No fundie xianity.

    It’s just ingroup outgroup tribalism.

    They will have to find someone else to hate, that is all. Hard to say who, scientists, educated people, atheists, Moslems, Democrats, etc.. So many groups to hate, so little time.

  7. bcmystery says

    Outside of Portland and Eugene, Oregon is effectively Idaho. And I don’t mean Greater Portland, but Portland. A significant chunk of the Portland metro area outside the city limits would vote for Michelle Bachman if they could.

  8. ReneeHendricks says

    WA state is a mail-in only ballot state and ballots are still expected to be coming in. Most of our local news sources aren’t counting Ref 74 as approved just yet because of this. We probably won’t know for sure until closer to the end of the week.

    It’s still pretty close – no counties in Eastern WA have approved and only 6 counties in Western WA are on the approving side. The major factor is King County being so large.

    Just a small FYI :)

  9. says

    The Washington and Maryland measures were referenda: the legislatures passed marriage equality bills, the governors signed them, and the bigots demanded that the pending laws go to a vote of the people.

    Maine, however, was a citizen initiative. It marks the first time that marriage equality has been put into law by the people themselves, without the intercession of judges or lawmakers.

    And as Ed pointed out, Minnesota was the first time a constitutional amendment to enshrine bigotry was voted down.

    The times, they are indeed a-changin’.

  10. Hatchetfish says

    Part of the Oregon pot measure going down was due to being badly executed and written. Quite a few expected supporters actually campaigned against it, because it wasn’t the bill they wanted and of course if it had passed they’d never get what they wanted.

    Less that Oregon rejected legalizing, than that we held out for a better bill.

  11. Reginald Selkirk says

    Part of the Oregon pot measure going down was due to being badly executed and written.

    It also had Cheeto smears all over it.

  12. says

    @ReneeHendricks #11 – No race is legally won until the Secretary of State certifies the results, which is done 30 days after the election (December 6, in this case.)

    Right now, Ref 74 is ahead by 68,111 votes, or 3.58%. That will certainly change, but historically a margin that big is not changed enough to alter the eventual result. Unless there is an unprecedented surge of No votes when the next round of results are released this afternoon, couples will be able to get their marriage licenses at the opening of business on December 7.

  13. ReneeHendricks says

    @Gregory in Seattle #15 – Certainly. I should have said a clearer picture of the outcome. It still bothers me to no end that it had to come to creating a referendum.

  14. Synfandel says

    I can’t believe two US states have legalised recreational marijuana before us Canadians. How embarrassing!

    Could this be the issue that will bring the federal Liberal Party back from its electoral near-anihilation in May 2011?

  15. marcus says

    Congratulations on all referendums that won in support of marriage equality. All of those victories count towards the big one, the day when the Supreme Court finally stands up and recognizes the simple human and civil right to be with and marry the person you love. Until that fine day…

  16. mikeyb says

    You forgot two ballot measures – the ability to elect openly misogynistic senators even in red states.

  17. jameshanley says


    Any idea who’s going to lead the drive to repeal Michigan’s constitutional amendment banning SSM? It just might be time for us to get real serious about that.

  18. cry4turtles says

    I’m taking my bong and moving to Colorado or Washington or Colorado or Washington …so hard to make a decision with my bong in hand…cough cough.

  19. leftwingfox says

    9: Hate to burst your bubble, but it’s still a federal crime.

    I’m thrilled that these succeeded, and they should go a long way towards furthering the long-overdue conversation about the War on Drugs. I just want to be sure that users in these states are still in just as much risk of prosecution as they were before; possibly more now that these states are on the DEA’s radar.

  20. leftwingfox says

    Sorry, Bad typo. “I just want to be sure that users in these states KNOW THEY are still in just as much risk”. I don’t want them to BE at risk.

  21. tomh says

    Not all was good news, though. The Death with Dignity initiative in Massachusetts was defeated. Although it was well ahead in the polls in September, in the last few months opponents, (led by religious leaders), made a big push, outspending supporters 3-1 and managed to defeat it.

  22. eric says

    Another potentially important measure that got lost in the shuffle: Puerto Rico approved statehood.

    Congress still has to act on it. I frankly give that a dismal chance of happening. But if it did, the consequences would be pretty significant. 2 Senators would be added and PR would get 5 of the Congressional seats, probably taking one each from FL, TX, WA, CA, and MN. Plus, we’d have to reissue all our flags. :)

  23. imthegenieicandoanything says


    According to my English-‘Mer’kin Xian bilingual dictionary, that’s “Satan”!

    That really is one nasty motherfucker of a sick fantasy the fundies – of any religion – pretend to worship in order to make others’ lives as unpleasant as their own!

  24. Jordan Genso says

    @21 jameshanley

    I think that would be a wonderful idea. The Democrats in Michigan did not have a very good election last night, losing the proposal that would’ve protected unions from Right-to-Work legislation (that will probably be fought in the coming year). I think they may have been relying on that proposal as being something that would turn out Democratic voters, but it doesn’t seem to have worked.

    If there was a push to undo Proposal 2 from 2004 (that banned SSM in Michigan), I think that would be a great way to re-engage a lot of voters. There was so much confusion over the six proposals this year, that a vote in favor of allowing marriage equality, while it would still be demagogued of course, it would be one that the voters could understand.

    From a strategic standpoint though, I don’t know if 2014 or 2016 would be the better year for it. It would have a better chance of passing in 2016 in my opinion, but having it in 2014 could help Democrats win back some of the Senate seats and possibly the Governor’s race.

  25. Abby Normal says

    Ed, how long are you going to ignore the elephant in the room before you start covering the most important election of our lifetime? Christie v Clinton 2016

    (Too soon?)

  26. eric says

    @31: Heh. I liked Wyatt Cenac’s variant: “In other news, Nate Silver has just predicted that Hilary narrowly defeats Jeb Bush in 2016.”

  27. JustaTech says

    As a Washington voter, here’s my question from last night: Who voted *for* pot but *against* gay marriage, and why? Last I checked yes on Ref74 (marriage) was pretty much only around Puget Sound (very-greater-Seattle), but I-502 (pot) was all over the map (literaly); the Sound, the Canadian border, out in the Idaho/Oregon corner.

    My only guess is that it’s a religious thing, but I hate to think that.

  28. Captain Mike says

    Or just plain ordinary fag hating. I’ve met a few pot smokers who were straight-up homophobic, but not particularly religious.

  29. marcus says

    leftwingfox @ 24 Thanks but no bubbles burst. I am aware of the difference, I don’t worry much about the FBI or DEA busting into my crib for the little bit I keep around, more worried about the Staties or locals busting me for simple possession because they did a “stop and frisk” or because they decided to search my car. So, vast improvement.

  30. says

    Unfortunately Issue 2 in Ohio failed to pass, which would have moved redristricting powers from elected officials to an independant commission. Then maybe we could do something about the district Boehner squats in, which hugs the Indiana border and sprawls about the map sucking up the lily white exurbs around Cincinnati and Dayton, leaving the Democratic leaning cities alone.

  31. Ben P says

    leftwingfox @ 24 Thanks but no bubbles burst. I am aware of the difference, I don’t worry much about the FBI or DEA busting into my crib for the little bit I keep around, more worried about the Staties or locals busting me for simple possession because they did a “stop and frisk” or because they decided to search my car. So, vast improvement.

    From what I understand that’s functionally the way it works in the Med. Marijuana states. The DEA still actively enforces the law, but they rarely go after small potatoes. It’s only worth their time to go after smugglers and growers. On the other hand, if you’re growing, courying, or running a dispensary/store, you had best be careful not to attract their attention.

  32. Chiroptera says

    eric, #28: …and PR would get 5 of the Congressional seats, probably taking one each from FL, TX, WA, CA, and MN.

    Not if they increased the number of seats in the House to 440 to take Puerto Rico’s apportionment into account.

    ‘Course, we may still see a state or two lose out due to the New States Paradox.

    (Heh. We’re covering apportionment in the class I’m teaching. I always try to include that and voting theory during election years.)

  33. marcus says

    Alright, Alright! I no longer feel like a criminal in my own home. As noted in other articles 99 percent of all marijuana arrests are conducted by local and state law enforcement. They are, at least temporarily, enjoined from fucking with me in my castle for doing something that is causing no one else any harm.

  34. marcus says

    Or will be after 2014 as noted by the ever-vigilant Area Man. I’ve been dodging those bastards for 40 years, with a little luck I might make it 1 or 2 more. (Knocking on wood.)

  35. pilch62 says

    imrryr @ 6:

    I was a bit worried that question 6 wouldn’t pass, but now I can be proud of my home state for something other than it simply having the craziest flag.

    Oh, my goodness!! From a heraldic perspective, Maryland has the least crazy flag of all! Especially compared to that cheerleaders’ banner from Ohio, for example . . . The flag is simply the arms of the Calvert family and another family into which they married, the Crosslands, and is described thus:

    Quarterly first and fourth a paly of six or and sable, a bend counterchanged (for Calvert); second and third, per fesse and per pale argent and gules, a cross bottony counter-charged (for Crossland).

    This I didn’t know (from the wikipedia article on the Maryland flag): In 2001, a survey conducted by the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) placed Maryland’s flag fourth best in design quality out of the 72 Canadian provincial, U.S. state and U.S. territory flags ranked.

    So there. ;)

    PS: I, too, am incredibly proud of my home state, and irritated that my adopted state of CA can’t seem to get its act together on weddings, weed, or the death penalty!

  36. Childermass says

    In a sense there was a fifth marriage equality victory as well. Justice David Wiggins of the Iowa Supreme court survived his retention vote. The religious right was trying to oust him because he voted for marriage equality.

  37. Freeman says

    Florida was looking at funding CHURCHES with taxpayer money!?!?!?!?!
    You mean the tax-free subsidy wasn’t enough for these leeches? And aren’t the churches usually leading the charge against government welfare? And now they want more government welfare for themselves?

    This calls for a hard push-back. Frank Zappa was right: Tax the churches. Tax the businesses owned by the churches.

  38. savagemutt says

    May I just say that I’m happy to see James Hanley posting here again. I don’t believe I’ve seen him since the move from ScienceBlogs.

    But then again, I have a tendency to be completely oblivious to my surroundings, so perhaps he’s been here all along.

  39. imrryr says

    @pilch62 – I assure you, I didn’t mean “crazy” in a bad way ;)

    And I agree with NAVA, most states have absolutely awful flags. Nothing says, “My state isn’t particularly interesting” than having a flag with the state seal on a blue background. It’s even worse when you feel the need to add your state’s name in giant capital letters in order to differentiate it from the two dozen other flags that look exactly like yours.

  40. chrisdevries says

    @ #3 John Pieret: “It’s a good sign but the immediate result will be to drive the loonier right even loonier … perhaps dangerously so.”

    I would say yes, a certain contingent of right-wing authoritarian thinkers is getting both louder and loonier…but I also think there are less of them as they become more extreme. Reality-denial is harder when the reality you are trying to deny is so patently true as to make its denial impossible for all but the most dogmatic, truth-immune individuals.

    The danger of such individuals has always lain in their numbers, a ready-made social conservative voting bloc; as this segment shrinks, they become less powerful; as their power fades, more people, both inside and outside the truth-immune community will see the desperation of the leaders of the community and recognise that they are largely opportunistic nihilists, not to be trusted. The in-group dynamics depend completely on the members’ willingness to trust their leaders in the face of all of the evidence that shows just how immoral, backwards, and out-of-touch with reality they, and their values are. Now it is certainly probable that some right-wing authoritarians will simply find new charlatans to obey; but for some, there will be no turning back: recognising just how deluded they were by those they trusted will lead them to the world of critical thinking and eventually, to modern, progressive values.

    The authoritarian right will always be a threat to these values, but I can see a point at which these people are so irrelevant as to be openly mocked by a majority of Americans. Not this year, or next year, but sometime in the next decade most probably. Their moment in the sun is quickly waning, and the louder and loonier they get, the less people they’ll have under their influence.

  41. varith says

    Slowly, surely, Liberalism always wins out. Remember that 160 years ago a liberal was somebody who opposed slavery and 250 years ago a liberal was somonee who opposed the rule of nobility.

Leave a Reply