Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

US states vote for gay marriage and legal marijuana

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama waves to supporters after his victory speech at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden embrace on stage with family after his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama stands on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia after his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama stands on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia after his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama applauds supporters after his victory speech at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 07: South Koreans attends a U.S. Predential Election watch event on November 7, 2012 in Seoul, South Korea. South Koreans and Americans have been paying close attention to the U.S. presidential race between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. According to network projections incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won a second term. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 07: A South Korean woman cleans up the room after the U.S. Predential election watch event on November 7, 2012 in Seoul, South Korea. South Koreans and Americans have been paying close attention to the U.S. presidential race between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. According to network projections incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won a second term. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama waves as he walk on the stage with his daughter Malia at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama waves as he walks on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
President Barack Obama speaks at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
President Barack Obama waves as he walks on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, wife, Ann Romney, wave to the crowd while walking off of the stage after conceding the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: A woman reacts to a speech by Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, while he concedes the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Spectators react to a speech by Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, while he concedes the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Spectators hug amidst the crowd before Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, concedes the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: (L-R) Republican vice presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), daughter, Liza Ryan, and wife, Janna Ryan embrace each other after Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney concedes the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama walks on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia to deliver his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: (L-R) Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney greets Republican vice presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) on stage while his wife, Ann Romney, and Janna Ryan hug after conceding the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama walks on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia to deliver his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: (L-R) Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney greets Republican vice presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) on stage while his wife, Ann Romney, and Janna Ryan hug after conceding the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, speaks at the podium as he concedes the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, speaks at the podium as he concedes the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: Supporters cheer as U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his victory speech after being reelected for a second term at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, wife, Ann Romney, Republican vice presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), wife, Janna Ryan, and their families greet each other on stage after conceding the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden embrace on stage after r his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 06: Spectators react to President Obama's projected re-election displayed on large televisions during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 6, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. Voters went to polls in the heavily contested presidential race between incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 06: (L-R) Romney supporters Cecilia Aldana (L) and Julie Hereford react as a state is called for the Republican nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at an election night watch party at The Venetian on November 6, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Voters went to polls in the heavily contested presidential race between incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 06: Romney supporter Merav Bader reacts as a state is called for President Barack Obama at an election night watch party at The Venetian on November 6, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Voters went to polls in the heavily contested presidential race between incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 06: Jessica Clark celebrates with others in Times Square on November 6, 2012 in New York City. Clark said she voted for the first time in Tuesday's election. According to network projections incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won a second term. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 06: Jessica Clark, (C), 18, watches election results in Times Square before television networks called the election on November 6, 2012 in New York City. She said she voted for the first time in Tuesday's election. According to network projections incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won a second term. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 06: Supporters of Republician presidential candidate, former Massachuetts Gov. Mitt Romney Heidi Bischoff (L) and Paul Cimolini react after hearing that President Barack Obama was declared the winner at an election night watch party at The Venetian on November 6, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. After nearly two years of presidential campaigning, U.S. citizens went to the polls today and reelected President Obama over Romney. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 06: Supporter of Republician presidential candidate, former Massachuetts Gov. Mitt Romney Christi Foster crosses her fingers as she watches the election returns at an election night watch party at The Venetian on November 6, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Voters went to polls in the heavily contested presidential race between incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: A spectator sits on a bench on his Apple iPhone while waiting for Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, to concede his presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Supporters of President Barack Obama celebrate at Grand Park after television networks call the election in favor of President Barack Obama on November 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Voters went to polls in the heavily contested presidential race between incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Supporters of President Barack Obama celebrate at Grand Park after television networks call the election in favor of President Barack Obama on November 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Voters went to polls in the heavily contested presidential race between incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: Supporters of U.S. President Barack Obama cheer as they wait for Obama to appear on stage at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: Supporters of U.S. President Barack Obama cheer as they wait for Obama to appear on stage for his victory speech at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney greets supporters as he concedes the presidency during his campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Rick Wilking-Pool/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, waves to the crowd while speaking at the podium as he concedes the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Voters on opposite sides of the US made history today on two divisive social issues, with Maine becoming the first state to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote and Washington state becoming the first to legalise recreational marijuana use.

The outcome in Maine broke a 32-state streak, dating back to 1998, in which gay marriage had been rebuffed by every state that voted on it.

Maryland also voted to legalise same-sex marriage, while Minnesota voters were considering a conservative-backed amendment that would place a ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution

The marijuana measure in Washington sets up a showdown with the federal government, which outlaws the drug. The measure establishes a system of state-licensed marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, where adults over 21 can buy up to an ounce. It also establishes a standard blood test limit for driving under the influence.

Estimates have shown that pot taxes could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but the sales will not start until state officials make rules to govern the industry.

The outcomes of similar measures on recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Oregon were uncertain.

In Massachusetts, voters approved a measure to allow marijuana use for medical reasons, joining 17 other states. Arkansas voters were deciding on a similar measure that would make it the first Southern state in that group.

Maine's referendum on same-sex marriage marked the first time that gay-rights supporters put the issue to a popular vote. They collected enough signatures over the summer to schedule the vote, hoping to reverse the outcome of a 2009 referendum that quashed a gay-marriage law enacted by the state Legislature.

In both Maryland and Washington, gay-marriage laws were approved by politicians and signed by the governors earlier this year, but opponents gathered enough signatures to challenge the laws.

In Minnesota, the question was whether the state would join 30 others in placing a ban on gay marriage in its constitution. Even if the ban is defeated, same-sex marriage would remain illegal in Minnesota under statute.

Gay marriage is legal in six states and Washington, D.C. - in each case the result of legislation or court orders, not by a vote of the people.

In California, voters were deciding whether to repeal the state's death penalty. If the measure prevailed, the more than 720 inmates on death row there would have their sentences converted to life in prison.

While 17 states have ended capital punishment, most did so through legislative action. Only in Oregon, in 1964, did voters choose to repeal the death penalty; they later reversed themselves to reinstate it.

In all, there were 176 measures on the ballots in 38 states.

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