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What’s on the Ballot? (UPDATED with Results)

November 7th, 2012

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President Obama’s re-election was not the only important issue on the November 2012 ballot. Several states’ voters faced important initiatives with possible national implications, and the results of those votes are listed below.

Here’s a Quick Overview:

  • Of the 4 marriage votes, all 4 were in support of marriage (ME, MD, and WA legalizing, MN not banning).
  • Of the 2 abortion votes, 1 restriction passed (MT) and 1 restriction failed (FL).
  • Of the 2 immigration votes, 1 went in favor of immigrants (MD DREAM Act) and 1 went against immigrants (MT proof of citizenship).
  • In the 1 affirmative action vote, the practice was banned (OK).
  • In the 1 dying with dignity vote, the effort failed (MA).
  • Of the 6 marijuana votes, 4 passed (MA, CO, MT, WA), 2 failed (AR, OR).

Marriage for Gay Couples:

Abortion:

  • Florida Amendment 6: FAILED - state constitution not amended to prohibit the use of any public funds for abortion (including through Medicaid or the purchase of insurance covering abortion in a state exchange) except in the cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother. Had it passed, the amendment also would have overruled any court cases where the Florida Constitution was found to provide a broader right to abortion than the U.S. Constitution and prohibited the state constitution from ever again being interpreted to provide any abortion rights not guaranteed federally.
  • Montana Legislative Referendum 120: PASSED - requires doctors to notify a parent or guardian 48 hours before performing an abortion on a minor under 16 years old, except in cases of emergency or where a judge allows it.

Immigration:

  • Maryland Question 4: PASSED - allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at a community college and at a four-year school after transfer if they meet certain requirements.
  • Montana Legislative Referendum 121: PASSED - requires anyone seeking a state service to show proof of citizenship. DHS will be notified of any noncitizen applicants unlawfully within the U.S.

Affirmative Action:

  • Oklahoma State Question 759: PASSED - amends the state constitution to prohibit the use of affirmative action based on race, gender, ethnicity, or nationality in employment, education, and contracting.

Crime and Guns:

  • Arizona Proposition 114: PASSED - amends the state constitution to ensure that no crime victim can be sued for damages if he injures or kills the person committing the crime against him.
  • California Proposition 34: FAILED - the state’s use of the death penalty is not eliminated.
  • California Proposition 36: PASSED - amends the state’s Three Strikes Law to apply only where the third strike is for a serious or violent felony.
  • Louisiana Amendment 2: PASSED – amends the state constitution to explicitly classify the right to bear arms as fundamental, making it very difficult for courts to uphold any law infringing upon that right.

Religion:

  • Florida Religious Freedom Amendment 8: FAILED - state constitution not amended to ensure that no person or entity can be denied public funding because of religious identity, and did not reverse the current statewide ban on the direct or indirect use of public funds to aid religious providers.

Dying with dignity:

  • Massachusetts Question 2: FAILED – doctors are not allowed to prescribe medication to terminally ill patients to end their lives at the patients’ request.

Marijuana:

  • Arkansas Issue 5: FAILED - medical marijuana is not legalized.
  • Massachusetts Question 3: PASSED - legalizes medical marijuana.
  • Colorado Amendment 64: PASSED – decriminalizes marijuana use and possession for people 21 years of age or older.
  • Washington Initiative 502: PASSED - decriminalizes marijuana use and possession for people 21 years of age or older.
  • Montana Initiative Referendum 124: PASSED – overturns a recent bill that medical marijuana supporters call a “de facto repeal” of the old medical marijuana law, and ensures the legality of medical marijuana use.
  • Oregon Measure 80: FAILED - medical marijuana is not legalized, nor will a state-wide commission be established to regulate and tax its sale.

Unions:

  • Michigan Proposal 2: FAILED - state constitution not amended to include a right to collective bargaining through unions for all public and private sector employees.
  • Idaho Propositions 1 and 2: FAILED - two recent education bills that limited the collective bargaining rights of teachers are not repealed.

Health Care:

  • Alabama Amendment 6: PASSED - amends state constitution to prohibit any person, employer, or health care provider from being forced to participate in any health care system.
  • Wyoming Amendment A: PASSED - amends state constitution to prohibit any person, employer, or health care provider from being forced to participate in any health care system.
  • Florida Amendment 1: FAILED - laws not prohibited from forcing people or employers to purchase, obtain, or provide health insurance.
  • Montana Legislative Referendum 122: PASSED - prohibits anyone from being required to purchase health care or from being punished for refusing to do so.
  • Missouri Proposition E: PASSED - prohibits the establishment/creation/operation of any health insurance exchange unless explicitly passed as a state statute, referendum, or initiative.

Clean Energy:

  • Michigan Proposal 3: FAILED - by 2025, 25% of the retail utility sales in the state are not required to come from renewable sources and rate increases from the use of these renewable sources are not limited to only 1% per year.

Election Reform:

  • Arizona Proposition 121: FAILED - party-based primaries are not replaced by a single primary for all candidates from which the top-two vote earners would move into the general election.
  • California Proposition 32: FAILED – contributions to state or local campaigns by unions and corporations are not banned, government contractors are not prohibited from contributing to politicians who control their contracts, and automatic deduction of employee wages for political use by corporations, unions, and the government are not banned.
  • Colorado Amendment 65: PASSED - instructs the state government to support a federal limit on campaign contributions.
  • Minnesota Amendment 2: FAILED - state constitution not amended to require voters to show photo identification.
  • Montana Initiative 166: PASSED - establishes as state policy that corporations are not people, requires the legislature to prohibit corporate campaign contributions, and charges the state’s congressional delegation with proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution stating that corporations are not people and are therefore not entitled to constitutional rights.

What’s on the Ballot?

October 16th, 2012

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Voting via Flickr

The Presidential & Congressional elections are not the only important votes on the November 2012 ballot. Several states will also ask voters to weigh in on key ballot initiatives that could have national implications. We’ve put together a guide to some of the most important initiatives and referenda below. We’ll update this cheat sheet after the election so that you can see how they fared with voters in their states!

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Marriage for Gay Couples: A Snapshot of Public Opinion Research

May 11th, 2012

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Given the President’s announcement of his support for marriage this week, folks are understandably searching for data on how his position will play with voters in the middle. Our four years of in-depth research into that question provides crucial insights—here’s a quick look at some key numbers from our July 2011 poll.

1. A strong majority of Americans say they will accept marriage for gay couples.

When asked how they would feel if gay couples could marry, 32% said they would be glad, 23% said they would not like it but it would be acceptable to them, and 37% said it would not be acceptable to them (another 9% said they didn’t know). So approximately a third of the country will likely be energized by President Obama’s announcement, and another third will accept it. Only about a third will find it unacceptable—and our guess is that likely very few (if any) of those folks were planning to vote for President Obama before his interview.

2. The “rights” argument may fall flat with the middle, but “commitment” can woo them.

Only a bare majority agreed that “marriage is a basic human right that should not be denied to gay people” (52%) and only slightly more thought that “not allowing gay people to marry is discrimination.” But 60% of respondents in our poll agreed that allowing gay couples to marry would “help committed couples take care of each other and their families.” That included 63% of Independents and 78% of those who rated themselves 5s on a 1-10 comfort scale with marriage. And 61% of all respondents thought the following statement described the issue of marriage for gay couples very well or pretty well: “I believe gay couples want to marry for similar reasons as anyone—to make a public promise of love and commitment.”

A solid 61% described this statement as convincing, including 37% who said it was very convincing:

Some people say that gay and lesbian couples who are truly committed to each other want similar things as the rest of us—to build a life together based on love and commitment, staying together through thick and thin. The Golden Rule is one of the most important values we teach our children—to treat others as we want to be treated. So if a couple is willing to stand up in front of family and friends and make a lifetime promise to each other, it’s not for us to judge, or to deny them that opportunity.

Those who thought that statement was convincing included 64% of Indepen­dents, 79% of those who rated themselves a 5 on the comfort scale, and 80% of those who said marriage would be acceptable but they wouldn’t like it (the grudging acceptors).

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Will the middle say ‘I do’ to gay marriage?

May 11th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on Politico.

President Barack Obama’s announcement Wednesday in support of marriage for gay couples answered one key question: Where does he — and so his party — stand? Now the big question is: Are Americans in the middle ready to accept this?

That answer can be yes, based on our four years of extensive research into that precise question — if marriage supporters heed three crucial lessons about how the middle views this issue.

First, the “rights” frame is wrong. One word emerged during our nine rounds of research that described how Americans in the middle view marriage: commitment.

In fact, when undecided Americans were asked what marriage means to them, “commitment” came up four times as often as the word “love.” “Rights” never came up — not once. To folks in the middle, marriage is about making a promise to care for each other for a lifetime, through better or worse.

They often focused on the latter — because that is what makes marriage unique from other relationships. To them, marriage is about one thing: the obligation and responsibility that comes with making a public promise of lifetime commitment.

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Taking a Lesson from Down Under

December 5th, 2011

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This piece was originally posted by The Advocate.

It’s time.

That’s the tagline for the new marriage ad circulating like wildfire across multiple continents. Created by the progressive Australian group Get Up! as that country debates allowing gay couples to marry, the two-minute video tells the story of a relationship through the eyes of one of the participants. It depicts the initial meeting and romance, the arguments and everyday annoyances, the joyful times and the depths of grief, all culminating in a man getting down on one knee and proposing in front of the couple’s friends and family. The person behind the camera is finally revealed, and the viewer sees that it is another man, just as the two are being enveloped in congratulatory hugs on their engagement.

So why has this ad captured the hearts and Facebook statuses of so many marriage advocates and allies in the U.S., and could it be part of a strategy to move marriage forward in our own country? Third Way’s extensive research on how Middle Americans view the issue of marriage for gay couples — and how to move them to solidly support it — points to three reasons that a similar ad may be effective with the middle stateside. Read the rest of this entry »

We Should Make Marriage About Commitment

November 9th, 2011

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This piece was originally published by The Advocate.

Next April, as the cherry blossoms are flowering across the city, I will stand in front of my family and friends and make a public promise of lifetime fidelity and commitment to my partner of five years. We want to take part in the tradition of marriage because we take its vows seriously and hope that the closest people in our lives will both hold us accountable to those words and support us in our relationship as life doles out the “for better or worse.”

But if you ask people who are still struggling with whether they support allowing gay couples to marry, they are just as likely to believe that I want to marry in order to get “rights and benefits like tax advantages, hospital visitation, or sharing a spouse’s pension,” rather than to publicly acknowledge lifetime commitment. Why? Because that’s what many in the movement have been telling them for so many years—and they listened.

After conducting extensive research on Americans in the middle, Third Way believes that correcting this misperception is the number one thing we can do to solidify support for marriage across the country. And a vital part of that effort must come in shifting our own advocacy from the language of rights to the language of commitment. Read the rest of this entry »