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ELECTION 08: Calif. marriage amendment, Prop 8, leads list of nationwide initiatives

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–When voters nationwide go to the polls Tuesday, they’ll vote on the nation’s next president, but they’ll also consider a host of ballot initiatives pertaining to everything from abortion to “gay marriage” to embryonic stem cell research.

[QUOTE@left@120=Vote ‘YES’ on:
Ariz. Prop. 102
Ark. Init. Act 1
Calif. Prop. 8
Calif. Prop. 4
Conn. Question 1
Fla. Amend. 2
S.D. Measure 11]California figures to lead the way, both in terms of the limelight and significance. At issue is whether a May decision by the California Supreme Court legalizing “gay marriage” stands. If a proposed amendment to the state constitution known as Proposition 8 passes, then the ruling will be, for all practical purposes, null and void. The amendment reads: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.”

[QUOTE@right@140=Vote ‘NO’ on:
Ark. Amend. 3
Md. Question 2
Mich. Proposal 1
Mich. Proposal 2
Mo. Proposal A
San Fran. Prop. K
Wash. Initiative 1000]It is the first time voters in a state will consider whether to overturn a state court ruling on the issue. Legal experts are divided as to what would happen — if Prop 8 passes — to the thousands of licenses already issued.

Polls show a tight race, and turnout could make the difference.

“That’s perhaps going to be the most critical part of the entire campaign — our voter turnout,” said Chris Clark, pastor of East Clairemont Southern Baptist Church in San Diego, and a supporter of Prop 8. “We’re convinced that if our voters turn out and those that we have identified as yes votes turn out, then we will see a very good result.”

The race is being monitored closely by national pro-family leaders because California historically has been a trend-setter. It helped spark the sexual revolution, adopted the nation’s first no-fault divorce law and helped launch the modern-day “gay rights” movement. The outcome of Prop 8 could determine the future of “gay marriage” across the nation. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins went so far as to call the vote on Prop 8 “more important than the presidential election.”

Prop 8 backers led in fundraising through the end of September, but opponents — boosted by Hollywood, the California Teachers Union and homosexual activist groups — outraised supporters by a margin of 5-to-1 from Oct. 1 through Oct. 23. But since Oct. 23 — after a plea for donations from ProtectMarriage.com, the main group backing Prop 8 — supporters outraised the main opposition group $8.2 million to $7.8 million. The majority of the money for both sides has gone to television advertising, which is notoriously expensive in the nation’s most populous state.

“We’re upbeat. We’re encouraged,” Clark said. “The outpouring of support nationwide has been nothing short of spectacular. The giving, the donations, have completely stunned us.”

The California vote, though, isn’t the only significant ballot initiative nationwide. Among others:

— Arizona and Florida also will vote on constitutional marriage amendments. Arizona’s vote on Proposition 102 comes two years after the state became the first to defeat a marriage amendment. But, unlike, 2006, the amendment and the debate has focused squarely on “gay marriage,” and supporters are far more confident this go-round. Floridians are considering Amendment 2, which under a new law must get 60 percent of the vote to pass. Similar to what opponents of the Arizona amendment did in 2006, opponents of Florida’s amendment are avoiding the issue of “gay marriage” and claiming the proposal would take away seniors’ benefits. Supporters counter by saying the amendment simply is aimed at prohibiting not only “gay marriage” but also Vermont-style civil unions, which grant homosexual couples all the legal benefits of marriage.

— Connecticut, one month removed from seeing its Supreme Court legalize “gay marriage,” will consider Question 1, a once-every-two-decades ballot question that asks voters whether they want to call a constitutional convention. If it passes, then a constitutional convention will be held within a year, and supporters of traditional marriage — as well as other groups, including those backing tax reform — will push to have the constitution changed so that it would allow for direct initiatives. The goal by pro-family groups then would be to gather enough signatures to put a marriage amendment on the ballot.

— California, Michigan, South Dakota and Washington will consider various pro-life initiatives. Californians will vote on Proposition 4, which would require an abortion doctor to notify a parent — or another adult family member — 48 hours before performing an abortion on a teen girl. Michigan citizens will vote on Proposal 2 and decide whether to legalize embryonic stem cell research in the state. In South Dakota, voters will consider Measure 11, which would prohibit all abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Washington state citizens will vote on Initiative 1000, which would legalize Oregon-like assisted suicide.

— Arkansas, Maryland and Missouri voters will consider various gambling proposals. Arkansans will vote on Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 3, which would give the legislature the OK to create a statewide lottery. Maryland voters will consider Question 2 and decide whether to amend the constitution to allow slots. Missourians will vote on Proposal A, a measure that would, among other things, repeal the rule that a gambler can lose a maximum of $500 during two hours at a casino, cap the number of casinos in the state and increase taxes on casinos.

— Arkansas citizens will vote on Initiated Act 1, which would prohibit adoptions by cohabitating heterosexual and homosexual couples.

— Michigan voters will consider Proposal 1, which would legalize medicinal marijuana

— San Franciscans will vote on Proposition K, which would decriminalize prostitution. The mayor and other prominent officials oppose the measure.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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