States give OK to gay unions
NOT only did the conservative movement fail to win either the White House or the Senate on Tuesday night in America, voters in state referendums across the country rejected some of its key positions, particularly opposition to gay marriage and drug law reform.
Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington became the first states to support gay marriage at the ballot, while in Minnesota voters rejected a proposal to alter the constitution to ban gay marriage.
Voters in Wisconsin elected the first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin, who said at her victory party: ''I am well aware that I will have the honour to be Wisconsin's first woman US senator. And I am well aware I will be the first openly gay member of the United States Senate. But I didn't run to make history.''
When these laws take effect, gay marriage will be legal in nine US states, a circumstance many would have found unthinkable even four years ago.
As recently as 2004, Republican strategist Karl Rove prompted Republicans in key states to put up gay marriage bans in the federal election. The object was to draw Christian conservatives to the polls, and in so doing bolster the vote for George W. Bush. It worked, and for a time some Republicans believed they could use fear of gay marriage to maintain a permanent majority.
The results across America on Tuesday night appear to put the notion to rest.
Outside an early voting booth on Monday in Ohio, 35-year-old Ryan Beem, a pipe-fitter who had struggled to find work through the recession, told Fairfax he had just cast a vote for the President in part because he supported the union movement, and in part because he supported gay marriage.
''My brother is a homosexual and I think he should have the same rights as me and my wife,'' he said.
Also on Tuesday nine states and localities voted for measures legalising or decriminalising marijuana, an outcome celebrated by former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper.
''I cannot tell you how happy I am that after 40 years of the racist, destructive exercise in futility that is the war on drugs, my home state of Washington has now put us on a different path,'' Mr Stamper said.
With NEW YORK TIMES