2012 State Ballot Measures: What Won, What Lost (Gay Marriage, Marijuana And More)

Amanda Jetter celebrates along with others attending an Amendment 64 watch party in a bar after a local television station an
Amanda Jetter celebrates along with others attending an Amendment 64 watch party in a bar after a local television station announced the marijuana amendment's passage, in Denver, Colo., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The amendment would make it legal in Colorado for individuals to possess and for businesses to sell marijuana for recreational use. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Gay marriage
  • Did Maryland voters approve gay marriage? YES
  • Did Maine voters approve gay marriage? YES
  • Did Minnesota voters ban gay marriage? NO
  • Did Washington state voters approve gay marriage? YES
  • Did Arkansas voters approve medical marijuana? NO
  • Did Colorado voters approve state-regulated marijuana sales and consumption? YES
  • Did Massachusetts voters approve medical marijuana? YES
  • Did Oregon voters approve state-regulated marijuana sales? NO
  • Did Washington voters approve state-regulated marijuana growth and sales? YES
Assisted suicide
  • Did Massachusetts voters approve doctor-assisted suicide? NO
Human trafficking
  • Did California voters increase punishment for human trafficking convictions? YES
Blaine Amendment
  • Did Florida voters end the prohibition against state funds supporting religious organizations? NO
  • Did Maryland voters approve an expansion of casino gambling? YES
  • Did Oregon voters approve casino gambling? NO
  • Did Rhode Island voters approve state-operated casino gambling? YES
Death penalty
  • Did California voters end the death penalty? NO
  • Did Florida voters ban public funds from going towards abortions? NO
  • Did Montana voters approve parental notification prior to an abortion for a minor? YES

WASHINGTON (RNS) Politicians weren't the only options on the ballot on Tuesday (Nov. 6). Americans also cast their votes on a number of state ballot initiatives, including several hot-button social issues that are shaped by voters' religion and ethics.


Florida's Amendment 6, which would have banned state resources from funding abortions, was defeated by a 10 percent margin.

Montana also wrestled with abortion issues with LR-120, also known as the Montana Parental Notification Measure, which passed with 70 percent of the vote. LR-120 requires doctors to notify parents of minors under the age of 16 at least 48 hours before performing an abortion.

"The caring concern of parents for the health of their young daughters is more important than an abortionist's bottom line," said Steven H. Aden, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. "The voice of an abortionist should not be allowed more weight than the voice of parents when their daughter is pregnant."

Death Penalty

California voters rejected Proposition 34, which would have repealed the state's death penalty. The referendum only found support from 47.2 percent of Californians, while 52.8 percent were opposed.

Church vs. State

Florida voters rejected Amendment 8, which would have overturned the so-called Blaine Amendment, which prohibits religious organizations from receiving direct state funding. The measure failed 56 to 44 percent.

"This proposed amendment would have done nothing to preserve religious liberty," said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, claiming that it would have instead "stripped away key safeguards."

Assisted Suicide

Massachusetts' Question 2, better known as the "Death with Dignity Act," official was too close to call, but supporters nonetheless conceded defeat. The act would have legalized physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients expected to die within six months. The measure was strongly opposed by the state's Catholic bishops.

Suffering patients need understanding and sound medical treatment, not encouragement to kill themselves, said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. "The people of Massachusetts were right to reject this attempt to masquerade doctor-prescribed death as compassion," he said.


Six states voted on measures concerning marijuana. Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana and Washington passed measures liberalizing marijuana use. Measures in Arkansas and Oregon failed.

The measures in Arkansas, Massachusetts and Montana dealt with medical marijuana, while the measures in Colorado, Oregon and Washington sought to legalize state-regulated recreational marijuana. Recreational pot use in Colorado and Washington state will now be legal once the measure is fully implemented, although many observers expect a conflict with federal drug laws.

Human trafficking

Californians overwhelmingly approved Proposition 35, which increases penalties for human trafficking, with 81 percent of the vote.


Maryland approved Question 7, which greatly expanded casino gambling within the state, particularly in suburban Washington. Rhode Island voters approved two new casinos, and Oregon rejected private casinos.