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Election 2012: Ballot initiatives reflect nation's mood

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Washington and Maryland are holding popular referendums on laws legalizing same-sex marriage, which were passed by their legislatures and signed by their governors. A majority of voters in both states support the laws, according to polls.

Meanwhile, Minnesota voters will consider a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, though it would leave open the possibility of civil unions. Polls show a majority supports the amendment.

"This will be the first test of support for same-sex marriage since President Obama's highly publicized endorsement, which seems to have helped move public opinion sharply in favor," says John McGlennon, a political scientist at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. "But the results in the states which have voted in the past have been uniformly negative."

Health care. In 2010, Arizona and Oklahoma voters amended their constitutions, declaring that no individual or business would be compelled to participate in Obama's Affordable Care Act. Voters in four more states – Alabama, Montana, Florida, and Wyoming – will consider similar measures this November.

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