The Tuesday Count: Same-sex marriage dominating political headlines

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December 11, 2012

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By Al Ortiz and Eric Veram

The Tuesday Count has stayed the same from last week's report, but brewing developments have certainly heated up ballot measure chatter, with the most recent developments coming out of Ohio.

According to reports, advocates have stated that they would begin the petition process to place a same-sex marriage measure on the ballot in 2013. The measure would legalize marriage between "two consenting adults regardless of gender."[1]

Reports out of the state say that the group, Freedom to Marry Ohio, has until July 3, 2013 to gather nearly 400,000 valid signatures to put the measure, a constitutional amendment, on the ballot.

The last time a same-sex marriage measure was on the ballot in Ohio was in 2004, where the lone statewide measure before voters would have made marriage a union only between one man and one woman in the state. According to the text of the measure, "This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage." The amendment passed with a vote of 61.71% to 38.29%.

Reports of the petition effort to get the measure on the ballot came on the same day the United State Supreme Court announced that it would hear cases regarding the issue.

On Friday, December 7, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear two separate cases relating to the rights of same-sex couples. The first case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, is an appeal of the circuit court ruling that struck down California's Proposition 8. The proposition was originally thrown out by federal judges in agreement with a lawsuit arguing that California voters had violated the U.S. Constitution in overriding a state supreme court ruling allowing same-sex marriage. If the Supreme Court affirms the decision, it could result in a ruling that determines that the Constitution requires all states to allow same-sex marriage, not just California.[2][3]

The second, U.S. v. Windsor, regards a challenge to sections of the federal 1996 Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as between one man and one woman for the purposes of federal programs and benefits. The case is an appeal of a circuit court ruling declaring Section 3 of the law unconstitutional. Parties for both cases, however, have been asked by the Supreme Court to prepare briefs arguing whether or not appeals of the lower court decisions are legal. A ruling is not expected until March 2013.[2][3]

The Court's decision to hear the cases comes just as Washington's Referendum 74, which legalizes same-sex marriage, takes effect. In the 2012 general election, three states, Maine, Maryland, and Washington, became the first states to legalize same-sex marriage via popular referendum.

So far, states that have begun to see efforts to place this issue on future ballots include Arizona, Arkansas and Oregon.

Arizonan Tanner Pritts and the pro same-sex marriage group he formed, Arizona Advocates for Marriage Equality, have submitted paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State to begin the processes for signature gathering for the 2014 ballot.[4].

More than a quarter million valid signatures will be needed by the end of July 2014 for the issue to be present on the Arizona ballot.[4]

No official word was reported as to what formal opposition the initiative effort was facing.

Quick hits

Hope remains for opponents of "right-to-work" in Michigan: Following a fast-tracked passing of right-to-work bills by the Michigan legislature, many opponents thought a veto by Governor Rick Snyder was their last chance to stop the effort. This is because a veto referendum of a bill which included appropriations for state institutions, which the recent right-to-work bills do, is not possible under Michigan law. A new report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, however, indicates that the law could be overturned by an opposing citizen initiated ballot measure in 2014. If opponents opt for this route, the main difference separating it from a veto referendum will be that the new law would be allowed to remain in effect until the initiative is passed.[5][6]

Voters in Ohio may see "right-to-work" initiative in 2013: Inspired by the Michigan legislature's recent passing of public and private right-to-work bills, the Ohio Liberty Council has begun laying the groundwork for a campaign to place a similar measure before voters in the 2013 election. According to reports, supporters are aiming at gathering 380,000 signatures by July. Opponents, however, have vowed an even bigger fight than the one waged against Senate Bill 5, which was overturned by voters in 2011.[7]


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Egypt to hold referendum of constitutional proportions

Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi has called for a referendum on December 15, allowing voters to decide on the draft constitution proposed for the country.[8]

According to reports Morsi called for the referendum among country-wide disputes between many key political and religious groups that the Egyptian president is trying to obtain more power. The divide comes mainly between Islamist and secular lines, reports say.

Egyptian judges have also reportedly gone on strike in protest of the constitution and have threatened to boycott observing the vote, while the secular opposition have said they would create a civil disobedience campaign.

According to Morsi: "After receiving this draft constitution, and out of keenness to build the nation's institutions without delay or stalling, I will issue today the call for a public referendum on this draft charter on Saturday, Dec. 15. I pray to God and hope that it will be a new day of democracy in Egypt."

The Tuesday Count Spotlight highlights notable developments from local ballot measures across the country as well as international ballot measures.
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BALLOT LAW UPDATE
Michigan's replacement for Public Act 4 may be harder for opponents to overturn: Using a tactic similar to the one being displayed in the current fight over right-to-work legislation, the Michigan legislature has prepared a replacement for the recently overturned Public Act 4. According to reports, the new bill is called the "Local Government and School District Fiscal Responsibility Act" and includes $5.78 million in appropriations for the 2013 fiscal year. Though legislators hope this will make the new bill immune to a voter approved veto referendum, opponents are already considering the possibility of an opposing initiative for 2014.[9]

Colorado governor announces task force on implementing Amendment 64: Following his signing of Amendment 64 into law on Monday, December 10, Governor John Hickenlooper announced the creation of a task force aimed at implementing the legalization of marijuana in the state. Gov. Hickenlooper explained that the task force is needed to explore the various legal grey areas surrounding the amendment, such as the fact that marijuana currently remains illegal to buy or sell under state law and remains illegal to use at all under federal law. A statement from his office read, "The task force will consider and resolve a number of policy, legal and procedural issues, involving various interests and stakeholders, to implement the new constitutional amendment." According to U.S. Attorney for Colorado John Walsh, the Department of Justice is still reviewing the recently passed initiatives and has not yet made a formal declaration as to what actions, if any, it will take.[10]


A new update will be released later this month. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2012 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2012 Scorecard

References