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Americas

US states vote to legalise pot and same-sex marriage

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-11-07

US President Barack Obama's election victory might dominate the front pages of newspapers on Wednesday, but several US states made their own headlines by voting to legalise marijuana and gay marriage, and to make porn stars wear condoms on set.

US states voted Tuesday to legalize marijuana, allow gay marriage and keep public funding for abortions, in a string of liberal poll decisions accompanying Barack Obama's re-election.

The moves were decided among more than 170 ballot initiatives and referendums held across the country, as America voted the Democratic president back in for four more years.

Colorado and Washington became the first US states to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use on Tuesday in defiance of federal law, setting the stage for a possible showdown with the Obama administration.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper accepted the result -- albeit with tongue in cheek.

'Marijuana still illegal under federal law'

"The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will ... That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug," he said, referring to nationwide legislation which conflicts with a number of states' own laws.

"So don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly," he said, referring to two popular brands of cheesy snacks. Marijuana is known to stimulate the appetite.

The US Department of Justice reacted to the measure’s passage in Colorado by saying its enforcement policies remain unchanged, adding: “We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time.”

Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage months before the election, pitting him against Republican rival Mitt Romney, who insists that marriage should be reserved for a relationship between a man and a woman.

During his first four-year term Obama had also fulfilled a pledge to repeal the controversial Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) law banning openly gay servicemen and women from serving in the US military.

Maine and Maryland back same sex marriage

Three states voted Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage, including Maine -- which voted in a referendum against it in 2009, but reversed that decision with 53 percent in favor to 47 percent against.

Washington state and Maryland also appeared set to approve the move, which had already been passed by state lawmakers. Both states voted 52-48 percent in favor, according to CNN projections based on partial results.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who campaigned vigorously for the marriage measure, spoke to a jubilant crowd in Baltimore. Christopher Wold, 31, danced with his partner of four years after the result became clear. He said they would like to marry now that it’s legal in Maryland.

“It feels so good to be accepted by so many people of all different backgrounds,” he said. “It just feels wonderful.”

Same-sex marriage is not federally recognized, but it was already legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia. It is constitutionally banned in 31 states.

In other closely watched initiatives, California rejected a move to ban the death penalty, and one to enforce labeling of genetically-modified (GM) foodstuffs -- which would have been a US first if passed.

In a more local vote, Los Angeles County voted to oblige porn actors to wear condoms while on set -- the San Fernando Valley north of LA is the center of the US pornographic film industry.

Florida voters meanwhile rejected a proposal to ban the use of public funds for abortion or for insurance coverage for the service, according to partial results.

Fifty-five percent of voters rejected Florida's so-called Amendment 6, with 45 percent in favor, according to NBC and CNN.

Abortion has long been a hugely divisive issue in America, with many Republicans fiercely opposed. During the campaign two Republican politicians made controversial comments which helped flare the debate again.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

 

Date created : 2012-11-07

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