By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
November 7, 2014
There were state-wide referendums on the ballot this election on abortion, marijuana, gambling and alcohol. The results were both good and bad for those who view life through a Christian worldview.
Voters in North Dakota and Colorado resoundingly defeated Personhood Amendments that would have defined human life at the moment of conception or the fertilization of an embryo.
Colorado’s Amendment 67 failed by a 64% to 36% margin. This is the third time such an amendment has been defeated in that state. Petitions to get the amendment on the ballot were largely driven in honor of an unborn child that was killed in a car crash during the eighth month of pregnancy.
Proponents of the Personhood Amendment in North Dakota, Amendment 1, were hopeful that in their conservative state they might see the first victory of its kind, inciting other states to pass their own Personhood Amendments. Nevertheless, North Dakota’s amendment went down much like Colorado’s by a 64% to 36% margin.
In both of these cases supporters were divided over the alleged vagueness of the amendment’s language, saying both shouldn’t actually be considered as personhood amendments because neither explicitly referenced conception.
Personhood Amendments have not fared well. They have failed to advance in states such as Nevada, Oklahoma, Virginia, Florida and Mississippi in recent years.
But the news on the pro-life front wasn’t all bad. Tennessee’s Amendment 1, which gives the state’s legislature more power to regulate and restrict abortion passed with 53% of the vote. Some lawmakers in Tennessee are now vowing to begin scaling back on so-called abortion rights when the next legislative session reconvenes.
Garland Honeycutt, a staff member of the Christian Action League of North Carolina assisted supporters of Amendment 1 in Tennessee. Honeycutt said, “Working with the good people in Tennessee to pass this critical ballot measure to save the unborn was one of the highlights of my life. I’m jubilant. I pray lawmakers will follow through and protect and preserve the lives of the most innocent among us.”
Voters in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C. chose to legalize the recreational use of marijuana on Tuesday.
Alaska passed a referendum on recreational marijuana with 52% of the vote. That measure makes it legal for adults to have up to one ounce of the substance and six plants. Production and sales are to be regulated by a state commission.
Oregon passed their referendum on recreational marijuana with 54% of the state’s vote. In Oregon, adults will be able to possess up to eight ounces of pot and four marijuana plants. Sales of marijuana are to be regulated by the state’s liquor board. Oregon tied revenues from marijuana sales to go to public schools; mental health, addiction services, and law enforcement.
Washington D.C.’s passage of recreational marijuana allows adults to possess up to two ounces and six plants. It does not, however, allow for taxation because voter measures by law cannot impact the District of Columbia’s budget. The ballot measure passed with 69% of the vote. Nevertheless, D.C’s measure is uncertain. Being subject to Congressional review and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, it could be challenged.
Florida rejected a state-wide referendum on medical marijuana, falling three points short of the state’s requirement for a 60% supermajority needed to pass. The measure would have allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana for “debilitating medical conditions.” Opponents say the failure of the ballot initiative is proof the debate on marijuana is far from over.
There were nine ballot questions across the country pertaining to gambling. Some were related to casino expansion, while others hoped to scale-back laws pertaining to so-called charity games.
According to the Rapid City Journal, an already lively gambling industry in Deadwood got a jolt of new games, as voters approved by 10 percentage points in favor of adding keno, roulette and craps to slot machines, blackjack and poker. The South Dakota Legislature will still have to approve the new games. The ballot measure that passed simply allows them to do so.
Voters in Massachusetts rejected by a 59% margin a referendum to repeal a 2011 law that allowed for three casinos in the state. A “yes” vote would have stopped casino gambling in the Bay State, while a “no” vote” would have permitted it.
A Colorado initiative that sought to amend that state’s constitution to allow for casino gambling at race tracks in three counties, something called racinos, was strongly rejected by voters in that state by a 71% to 29% margin.
The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians had placed over 300 acres of land in trust for a future casino. The federal government approved it in 2011. California’s legislature approved a gaming compact in 2013. But gambling opponents gained enough signatures to place a citizens’ veto on the ballot. More than 3 million votes were cast with 59% of voters supporting the citizens’ veto. Gambling opponents were elated with the results.
Rhode Island had two gambling ballot questions this year. Question 1 would allow Newport Grand Casino to add more tables to its casino floor. Question 2 would permit the casino from moving without approval by a majority of the electorate. Question 1 was approved by 56% of the electorate. Question 2 was approved by a margin of 67%.
Raffles for charities are illegal in four states. Two states, Kansas and South Carolina were seeking to change this with constitutional amendments that allow for raffles for non-profits under certain conditions. Kansans approved the amendment by a whopping 75% of the vote. Before raffles had been viewed as private lotteries and barred under the state’s existing law. The new amendment, however, will not allow raffle tickets to be sold via electronic gambling, vending machines, or hiring professional firms to run contests. South Carolinians also approved charitable raffles by a huge margin, with 83% of the electorate voting in the affirmative. South Carolina lawmakers will still have to ratify the amendment in their next legislative session. Alabama and Hawaii remain the only two states in the country where charitable raffles are not allowed.
Tennessee’s Amendment 4 sought to change the state’s constitution to allow charities to hold annual lotteries. Amendment 4 passed with 70% of the electorate’s approval. Tennessee lawmakers, however, must still approve the amendment by a two-thirds vote.
Arkansas voters rejected by a 57% margin an amendment to that state’s constitution that would have allowed alcohol sales state-wide. Arkansas currently requires the approval of local option alcohol referenda. Opponents of the measure argued largely on the basis of local rights. Time magazine reported their message was simple: “Don’t let the liberal-leaning urban counties dictate to the smaller, conservative ones.” With “help from local pastors and churches warning of legalizing a vice in heavily Christian areas…it appears that message resonated with voters,” Time reports. Thirty-seven counties in the state of Arkansas are still dry, while 38 are wet.