Red state or blue, north or south, voters around the country found at least one thing they could agree on yesterday as proposals banning same-sex marriage were winning in all 11 states where the issue appeared on the ballot.
Tallies from Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Utah showed constitutional amendments restricting marriage to a man and woman would pass by substantial margins. A similar measure in Oregon enjoyed a solid lead with nearly three-quarters of the votes counted.
Same sex couple Taylor West, left, and Ann Hubard react to early results on Measure 36, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2004, in Portland, Ore.
(Bruce Ely - AP)
Gary Bauer, director of the conservative group American Values, said the results on same-sex marriage proposals "tell us that the American people know exactly where they stand on this question, and it doesn't matter whether it's a Bush state or a Kerry state."
But social conservatives were on the losing end of the vote in California, where voters agreed to create a $3 billion fund to finance research on embryonic stem cells, circumventing federal limits imposed by President Bush.
Voters in three other states were headed toward approving new funds dedicated to health care programs, in each case by imposing hefty tax increases on tobacco. Montanans agreed to raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1; an increase of 64 cents per pack was leading in Colorado, and Oklahoma voters approved a 55-cent tax hike.
In a result that could spark anti-immigration proposals in other states, Arizona voters appeared to be backing a measure that would require public officials to turn in illegal immigrants who seek public services, including police or fire calls. Supporters of the proposal said they want to see the idea carried to other states.
In Colorado, voters rejected a plan that would have divided the state's nine electoral votes in proportion to the popular vote in presidential elections. Supporters had called the move a step toward eliminating the electoral college nationally; opponents argued that dividing the state's vote would prompt presidential candidates to ignore Colorado altogether. Colorado Republicans, expecting Bush to carry the state, led the opposition to the proposal.
Montana voters approved the use of marijuana there for medical reasons, even though Bush had dispatched his drug czar to campaign against the measure. But a measure to further loosen marijuana controls in Oregon was losing, and Alaskans appeared to defeat a proposal that would have decriminalized marijuana possession.
Floridians approved a cap on damage awards in medical malpractice lawsuits. A similar proposal was leading in Nevada, but the vote on malpractice damage caps was extremely close in Oregon and Wyoming.
Florida voters also approved a measure that will allow the legislature to require parental notice before an abortion can be performed on girls younger than 18. Courts previously voided parental-notice laws, but the ballot measure passed yesterday changes the state constitution and would allow the legislature to approve the law.
Floridians approved a measure to raise the minimum wage to $6.15, a dollar above the federal minimum wage. Nevadans were also voting on a minimum-wage increase.
Oklahomans agreed to create a state lottery, leaving nine states that do not use this form of gambling to raise revenue. But gambling proposals struck out elsewhere. Californians appeared to reject proposals to allow more slot machines and casinos, Michigan voters tightened requirements to open casinos there, and Nebraskans resoundingly rejected an initiative that would have permitted Las Vegas-style casinos on the plains.
A proposal before California voters to ease the three-strikes law that mandates a lengthy prison term for a third felony conviction was closely contested with about half the voted counted.
The election offered more than 160 ballot issues to voters in 34 states yesterday. That was a decline from the 2002 election, when ballots in 40 states listed 202 initiatives and referenda. The decrease reflected, in part, efforts by several state legislatures to make it more difficult for voters to qualify initiative proposals for the ballot.