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Voters on state level to have say on abortion, stem cells, same-sex ‘marriage,’ gambling

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The same day that voters nationwide choose the nation’s president, citizens in a handful of states also will have a say on a host of hot-button issues, including same-sex “marriage,” embryonic stem cell research and abortion.

Eleven states will vote on constitutional marriage amendments Tuesday, led by Oregon — a state that has been embroiled in the legal battle over same-sex “marriage” since the beginning of the year.

If the Oregon amendment passes, then the traditional definition of marriage will be protected from rulings by state judges. But if it fails, nothing is guaranteed. The fact that the Oregon Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a same-sex “marriage” case Nov. 17 has added a sense of urgency to the vote.

Two presidential battleground states — Ohio and Michigan — also will vote on marriage amendments. Most of the 11 states voting on amendments already have laws banning same-sex “marriage.” But pro-family leaders note that those laws can be overturned in state courts.

“As long as we have activist judges, laws are not enough,” Phil Burress, chairman of the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage, said last week. “We need to change constitutions. We need to restrict the power of judges.”

Other states with marriage amendments on the ballot are Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah.

Meanwhile, California citizens will vote on a $3 billion bond initiative that would fund embryonic stem cell research over 10 years. Titled “Proposition 71,” the initiative also could fund therapeutic cloning — a process in which an embryo is cloned simply to destroy it and harvest its stem cells. Embryonic stem cell research also requires the destruction of the embryo and is opposed by pro-family groups.

Stem cells are the body’s master cells that can develop into other cells and tissues. They are found in human embryos but also in adult sources, such as bone marrow, umbilical cord blood and placentas. The procurement of stem cells from an adult source does not harm the donor. Thus far, adult stem cell research has had the most success, producing more than 40 treatments.

Floridians also will have a say in a life-or-death issue. Citizens there will vote on Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment that would authorize the Florida legislature to pass a bill requiring minors to notify their parents before obtaining an abortion. The amendment would trump the Florida Supreme Court, which has struck down parental notification laws twice.

In other states:

— Oklahoma citizens will decide whether to legalize the lottery and also whether to expand gambling in the state. State Questions 705 and 706 pertain to the lottery. State Question 712 expands gambling on Indian reservations and allows slot machines at racetracks.

— Californians will vote on two gambling initiatives — Propositions 68 and 70. Proposition 68 would expand gambling at race tracks and card rooms, while Proposition 70 would expand gambling by Indian tribes.

— Floridians will vote on Amendment 4, authorizing Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to approve slot machines in existing gaming facilities.

— Michigan citizens will vote on Proposition 1, which if passed would require voter approval before gambling is expanded in the state.

— Nebraskans will decide whether to legalize two casinos at locations to be determined. Initiatives 417, 418, 419 and 420 and Amendment 3 deal with the casino issue.

— Washington state citizens will vote on Initiative 892, which would legalize electronic slot machines at non-reservation sites such as restaurants and bowling alleys.

— Alaska, Montana and Oregon citizens will vote on various marijuana-related issues. With Ballot Measure 2, Alaskans will vote to decriminalize marijuana, although in polls the effort is failing. Alaska would become the first state in the nation to decriminalize marijuana.

Montanans will vote to legalize medicinal marijuana (Initiative 148), while Oregonians will vote to expand the state’s medicinal marijuana law (Measure 33). If the Oregon measure passes, state-licensed nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries would be established to sell marijuana to patients.

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