» By Kristin Jaggers and Chaseton Donahoe
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President Barack Obama may have sealed himself a second term by a large margin, but voters from different states are still in disagreement over certain hefty social issues. Several states passed initiatives to change legislation regarding gay marriage and state-regulated consumption of marijuana.
According to the Huffington Post, Maryland, Maine and Washington all passed resolutions to allow gay marriage, making this election the first time in history in which popular vote has come out in favor of marriage equality.
Maryland’s resolution came on the heels of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s signature of a bill allowing same sex marriage. The bill met with so much opposition following its signing that it was put to a state-wide vote and was eventually validated by voters on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Minnesota also had a resolution on the ballot regarding gay marriage. Voters vetoed a measure that would ban gay marriage, making Minnesota the first state to vote against a constitutional amendment limiting marriage equality. Minnesotans expect future pro-gay marriage legislation to be made easier by this year’s vote.
These weren’t the only advances made in public acceptance of homosexuality. CNN reported Tammy Baldwin became both the first openly gay senator as well as the first female senator hailing from Wisconsin. “People see our country and our states moving toward full equality in many respects,” she said.
Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, became the first openly bisexual member of Congress by a thin margin. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachussetts, joins Baldwin as the first female senator from her state. Hawaii’s first female senator, Mazie Hirono, is also the first female senator to be an Asian-American. The House also gained its first double-amputee and Iraq War veteran, Tammy Duckworth, who represents Illinois.
Colorado and Washington state voters also voted for the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes, while Massachussetts voters approved its medical use. However, Oregon voters turned down a resolution that would allow the state-regulated consumption of marijuana, and Arkansas voters refused to allow even the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The measures in Colorado and Washington allowing the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana within state borders is expected to meet heavy opposition from the federal government, under whose laws the substance is still outlawed.
The opposition is expected to take the form of lawsuits taking place between the state and federal governments. While lifting the cannabis ban remains controversial, many state legislators look forward to the extra revenue the substance will bring in once it is legalized. The Washington initiative imposes a 25 percent tax on marijuana sales.