While most Americans are focusing on who will be the next president of the United States, major issues from same-sex marriage to abortion will also be decided on November 4. Several states have hefty propositions on their ballots that could affect not only the respective states, but the entire nation.
On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage constitutional within the state. California voters had defined marriage as between a man and a woman via Prop 22 (by 61 percent) in 2000, but the state supreme court struck down the statute. The court argued that the statute was similar to earlier laws against interracial marriage.
Proposition 8 provides California voters another chance to defend marriage and in a much more concrete way. Prop 8 would amend the state constitution to say "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." The court could therefore not declare laws against same-sex marriage "unconstitutional."
There has been an amazingly intense battle in California over this issue. Supporters and opponents of Prop 8 have raised more than $60 million combined in their battles to win voters’ hearts on the issue of same-sex marriage. Even in California, $60 million is a lot of money. Prop 8's fate is not important to Californians alone, however; the election results will be felt by the entire nation.
Same-sex marriage is also on the ballot in several other states:
Arizona Prop 102: The Marriage Protection Amendment will amend the Arizona State Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. The constitutional amendment will protect existing laws against same-sex marriage.
Arkansas: The Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban will make it illegal for non-married cohabitating couples (including those of the same sex) to legally adopt or provide foster care to children.
Florida Prop 2: The Marriage Protection Amendment will amend the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. It requires a 60 percent majority in order to pass.
When South Dakota voters decide on Initiated Measure 11 next week, they may not only be amending the state constitution, but could be starting a fight that will lead to the U.S. Supreme Court.
South Dakota is not a big abortion state. With only one abortion clinic (in Sioux Falls) South Dakota already has a comparatively low abortion rate. This state, with some of the most protective laws in the nation (including a 24-hour waiting period), will offer voters a chance to outlaw the practice of using abortion as a means of birth control. The initiative would amend the state constitution to ban abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, or to protect the woman's health. Any doctor who violated the law could be tried as a felon.
A major proponent of the initiative is Dr. Patricia Giebink, an obstetrician-gynecologist who performed abortions in the mid 1990s. In 2006, she worked on the campaign to ban abortion in South Dakota. The 2006 ban, however, did not include the exceptions for rape and incest, and did not pass. Pro-life advocates are hopeful that this time around an abortion ban with exceptions will receive the support of the voters. The law could save hundreds of lives; of the 748 abortions performed in the state in 2006, only 14 were for reasons of rape, incest, or to protect the health or life of the mother.
Abortion is on the ballot in other states as well.
California Proposition 4: The Abortion Waiting Period and Parental Notification Initiative, also known as Sarah's Law, would amend the state constitution to make it illegal for a physician to perform an abortion on a minor until 48 hours after notifying her parent/legal guardian – or in cases of parental abuse, another adult member of the family. Judicial bypass and medical emergency exceptions are offered. The law would also make it illegal to force a minor to get an abortion against her will. Prop 4 is named after Sarah, a 15-year-old girl who died after having a botched abortion.
Colorado: The Colorado Equal Rights Amendment, or CERA, would define a human embryo as a "person" in the state constitution. The approved ballot asks voters if the definition of the term "person" in the constitution should "include any human being from the moment of fertilization." Opponents argue the amendment would outlaw certain types of birth control that prevent implantation after fertilization.
There are other controversial proposals on state ballots as well: Massachusetts might decriminalize marijuana, and the state of Washington might give terminally ill patients (with six or less months to live) the right to lethally inject themselves.
We Americans live in a nation ruled by a Constitution, in states ruled by state constitutions, and not under a dictatorship or monarchy. We the people of the United States are responsible for hiring people to public office, and for the laws we allow them to put on the books. Let’s take our job seriously and walk with prayer and knowledge into the election booth next Tuesday. We want God to bless our nation, but we need to be a nation He can bless.
• About Prop 8 - Yes On 8
• Arguments For and Against Prop 8 - Voter Information Guide
• IM 11 Tests Whether Voters Want Abortion Illegal - With Exceptions - The Black Hills Pioneer
• Gould trumps Prop 102 - Today's News-Herald
• Poll...Florida Ban on Same-Sex Marriages - The Orlando Sentinel
• TRUTH TEST: Would Amendment 48 Ban Abortions? - 9News
• Washington 2008 Ballot Measures - Ballotpedia
• Massachusetts 2008 Ballot Measures - Ballotpedia
• California Parental Notification Measure Shows Slight Edge - Medical News Today