Among the various bits of voting that happened last night, it’s important to remember that more than just control of the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate were on the line. There were also several ballot initiatives and local and statewide elections that need to be remembered. All of these are at least somewhat interesting, but there’s a few that really caught my eye.
First off, voters in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington state all voted in favor of gay marriage. In the case of Minnesota this was, as I understand it, voting against an amendment that would have outlawed it, but I do believe that in Maine, Maryland and Washington, the vote was to make gay marriage legal.
The importance of this cannot be understated. The majority agreed, however reluctantly in some cases, that the minority should be granted very basic human rights. This was the first time this happened in the case of gay marriage, and I’m glad that it finally did. Now we just move on to the inevitable court challenges which I predict will end in the Supreme Court saying that states don’t have to perform gay marriages, but they do have to recognize them when performed legally elsewhere, thus basically invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act.
We should take a moment to understand that Obama saying he supports gay marriage likely helped this issue considerably. He really is the best President we’ve ever had on gay rights, though given that the second best, Clinton, was the one who gave us Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA, that isn’t saying much. Tell me McCain would have been as good on gay rights and I’ll call you a lair to your face.
The other major thing to notice form last night is marijuana seems to have basically gone mainstream. Some states legalized medical marijuana, but that’s nothing new and not terribly interesting to me. No, the real interesting thing is that Washington state and Colorado both voted to make recreational use of marijuana legal.
Now that’s an important thing. In the case of Washington, what will happen is that, eventually, marijuana will be sold in various state-run stores, rather like liquor already is (or at least it was when I lived up there). You would be allowed to possess up to an ounce at a time, which is…I don’t know. A lot? A little? I have no idea, because I don’t use the stuff. But I’m sure it’s something that will greatly please those who do.
Of course the federal government isn’t big on this whole thing, so you can look forward to many challenges. For the Republicans out there, this brings up an interesting question. Isn’t this a states’ rights issue? The people of Washington state have decided they want to give up on the drug war and let people have their weed. Doesn’t Republican ideology mean that you have to support them in this? If there’s any intellectual consistency, of course it does, but when we’re talking about the GOP, perhaps “intellectual” is not a word that should be used.
There were many other state and local elections last night, but those were the ones that really caught my attention. I’m done, at least for now, covering what happened in election. I think I’m going to go take a nap.