Gay marriage, gambling and Dream Act to be decided by popular vote in Maryland

Maryland will have ground-breaking issues on the ballot in November including a referendum to legalize gay marriage, a referendum to increase the amount of gambling allowed in the state and a referendum to allow illegal immigrants to go to college and receive in-state tuition.

What has always known as a ‘blue state’ is about to go deep blue, if the polls keep looking the way they do.

So far the polls have gay marriage and the immigration law passing by a long-shot while Marylanders remain divided over the gambling issue.

 

Referendum 74: Same-Sex Marriage

If the same-sex marriage bill, or Referendum 74, passes it will be the first time gay marriage will be instituted by popular vote. Initiatives in other states have been passed by courts and state legislatures. Gay rights communities are hoping that this will be a watershed event that will open the doors for legalization of gay marriage across the country.

“The last barrier we need to overcome as a small minority is winning a majority vote on the ballot,” Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, a national gay-rights group, told The Washington Post. “There’s definitely a pathway to victory in these three states, but we can’t take anything for granted.”

Currently the bill is polling favorably at 52 percent yea to 43 percent nay.

President Barack Obama endorsed the bill in Maryland this week, as well as similar initiatives in Washington state and Maine. He encouraged voters in each of these states to support the right for same-sex couples to wed on November 6.

 

Question 4: Maryland Dream Act

According to a recent poll from The Washington Post, the Maryland Dream Act ballot initiative, Question 4, will likely pass by a landslide. The approval of Question 4 will make Maryland the twelfth state to create in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants attending public colleges and universities.

More than 59 percent of voters support the measure which would offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. State analysts say the new measure will cost the state more than $3.5 million per year and will force universities to make up any lost tuition.

The Maryland teachers union and and other the state labor unions have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising to support the act.

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has repeatedly said that he opposes the measure, calling it a magnet for illegal immigration.

Supporters of the bill are claiming that it will bring economic prosperity and equality to Maryland because the college-educated immigrants will work and give back to the state after they graduate, according to an article by The Washington Times

Question 4 in Maryland presents the opportunity for another historic first. If approved, Maryland will become the first state to use to provide incentives to people living in America illegally to attend college through the popular vote.

 

Question 7: Casinos and Gambling

The gambling initiative is the only ballot measure on which Marylanders remain divided with 46 percent of voters saying they will vote against the bill and 45 saying they support it.

The gambling bill, Question 7 on the ballot, will allow a new Las Vegas-style casino to be built in Prince George’s county and permit table games like black jack and roulette at Maryland’s other authorized slot locations.

More than $54 million has already been poured into the campaign by big gaming corporations who stand to make big bucks off the backs of Maryland gamblers, making Question 7 one of the most expensive political campaigns in Maryland history.

MGM Resorts is the major casino conglomerate backing the referendum. MGM Resorts wants to set up its luxury gambling resorts in Maryland and has spent more than $21 million on convincing Marylanders  to vote “yes” on the question. Meanwhile, Penn National Gaming, which is based in border state West Virginia, is afraid the new Maryland law will take money away from West Virginia gambling. Thus it has poured in $30 million trying to encourage Marylanders to vote “no.”

The amount of money in this campaign, driven by the ad war between these two casino giants, already exceeds the spending rates of the two last Maryland gubernatorial races combined, according to The Washington Post.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) promises that the initiative will help raise money for education, but voters seem to be doubting the truth of his statements and their skepticism is showing in the polls. Voters will have to decide to support the bill because they believe the people of their state should have the right to gamble without having to go to West Virginia or not to accept the measure because they don’t think the revenue created by the industry will be worth it.

 

As if these ballot measures are not enough, Maryland also has a hot Senate race this year, making Maryland a political hot spot this election year, despite it’s forgone electoral votes.

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