Voters Decide Measures Governing Marriage, Death, Taxes

U.S. voters legalized recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, allowed same-sex marriage in Maine and Maryland, and denied physician-assisted death in Massachusetts.

Washington and Colorado permitted possession of one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana. Approval of the Maine and Maryland marriage initiatives were the initial endorsement of the unions at U.S. ballot boxes.

“For the first time, voters in Maine and Maryland voted to allow loving couples to make lifelong commitments through marriage,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based group that supports equality for gay people, said in a statement.

The measures were among 176 in 38 states yesterday. Voters from San Francisco to Miami also weighed proposals to require labeling of genetically modified food, defy President Barack Obama’s health-care law and increase taxes to support schools.

Besides Washington and Colorado, four states considered marijuana proposals, seeking to build on measures that allow it for medical purposes in one-third of U.S. states. Oregon voters rejected a measure to legalize its recreational use.

Massachusetts voters approved medical marijuana, while Arkansas rejected it and Montana affirmed limits on it.

Same-Sex Marriage

Four states weighed same-sex marriage propositions. Maine became the first state where voters legalized it and Maryland residents affirmed a law allowing such unions. A similar measure in Washington was winning support from 51.8 percent of voters, compared with 48.2 percent opposed, with 51 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.

Minnesota voters decided not to amend their constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

To date, same-sex marriage has become legal only as a result of legislation or court rulings in New York, Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia.

Voters in Alabama, Wyoming and Montana approved propositions to prevent people from being required to get health insurance, while Florida voters rejected the idea. The measures are intended to block implementation of Obama’s health-care overhaul.

In Massachusetts, residents rejected a measure to allow physicians to prescribe medication to end the life of a terminally ill patient at that person’s request.

Death and Taxes

U.S. ballot measures featured 31 tax-related proposals, including two competing initiatives in California aimed at raising money for schools. Voters approved Proposition 30, offered by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, which temporarily boosts the sales tax to 7.5 percent from 7.25 percent and raises the levy on income starting at $250,000.

California residents also decided not to require labeling of genetically modified foods after a campaign that drew $45.6 million in contributions from companies opposing the measure. They include Monsanto Co., the world’s biggest seed producer; DuPont Co., the biggest U.S. chemical maker by sales; PepsiCo Inc., the world’s largest snack-food maker, and Coca-Cola Co., according to MapLight.

Arizona voters, who considered nine ballot propositions, rejected a measure to scrap partisan primaries for all federal, state and local offices except the presidency. They also rejected a constitutional amendment to assert the state’s sovereign control over air, water and other resources. The proposal was aimed at invalidating U.S. environmental laws and taking back federal lands, including national parks.

-- With assistance from Amanda Crawford in Phoenix. Editors: Jeffrey Taylor, Pete Young

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