Short takes on election issues
A win for Mormons • Even though their favorite candidate won't be moving into the White House, many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints feel Mitt Romney's seemingly never-ending campaign for the presidency over the past six or seven years has been good for the church. The Utah-based faith, of which Romney is a member, had tried for years to explain itself to other Americans and dispel some widely held myths about its doctrine. Romney took several opportunities, during the Republican primary in 2008 and again leading up to this year's election, to say that Mormons are not that different from members of other churches. Even Evangelical leader Rev. Billy Graham removed the label "cult" from his website's description of the LDS Church after Graham spoke to and prayed with Romney. In the end, the issue of Romney's faith blessedly became largely a non-issue, and that means the LDS Church may have moved into the mainstream to stay.
Historic changes • Oh, what a difference a few years makes. Three states affirmed marriage for gay and lesbian couples Tuesday. An initiative on the the ballot in Maine won 53 to 47 percent after a similar gay-marriage question was defeated there by the same margin in 2009. In Maryland and Washington, voters upheld same-sex marriage laws passed by their legislatures, joining 15 other states. Minnesota voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. But such unions remain illegal there. Just a decade ago, a majority of Americans opposed allowing homosexual couples to marry; now the opponents are in the minority. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually must decide the issue because it is unworkable for marriages performed in one state to be illegal in others. Americans move around, and marriage laws must be consistent, as the court ruled on the issue of mixed-race marriage long ago.
Invasive weed • Colorado and Washington voters decided Tuesday to allow recreational use of marijuana, effectively thumbing their noses at the federal Department of Justice, which continues to list pot as an illegal drug. Supporters of legalization rightly argued that too much money is spent enforcing laws against possession and use of marijuana, which, they said, is certainly no worse than legal consumption of alcohol. Economists estimate the two laws taxing marijuana use could produce more than $550 million in the two states combined, and legalizing pot nationwide could save the country up to $14 billion a year. Could the war on drugs, especially pot, be coming to a close?