There is much reason to be distressed about the current scope of the American political sphere. After Tuesday’s midterm elections, constituents on both sides of the aisle voiced legitimate concerns about the direction of our country. Yet, on Wednesday morning there was a glimmer of great hope for the American people.
In Washington state, ballot measure I-594 introduced stricter background checks into state gun protocol. Why is this an important moment of triumph for the American people?
On I-594 the people won. Not the lobbies. Not the politicians. The people.
Washington voters made history by becoming the first state to expand background checks to all gun sales by popular vote. By strategically moving the fight for commonsense gun policies from gun lobby-dominated legislatures to the ballot box, democracy in Washington state was able to function on a person-by-person basis.
Late last week, President Barack Obama endorsed the same-sex marriage referendum on the Washington state ballot and also formally backed a similar measure on the ballot in Maine.
The support from the president -- who in May came out in favor of gay marriage -- on Oct. 25 provided a boost for the campaign in favor of Washington's Referendum 74 just as a new poll showed that the race was getting tighter.
The announcement came in a statement issued by Paul Bell, the Washington press secretary for Obama's re-election campaign:
"While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect. Washington's same-sex marriage law would treat all Washington couples equally, and that is why the President supports a vote approving Referendum 74."
A federal court has struck down a Washington state rule that requires pharmacists to dispense the morning-after pill even if it violates their religious beliefs.
Religious liberty advocates cheered the decision. They have decried the 2007 state regulation as a violation of pharmacists' First Amendment rights, which guarantee freedom of religion.
In an emotional ceremony Monday (Feb. 13), Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation that makes Washington the seventh state to legalize gay marriage.
"Today is a day that historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights," she said to a hailing crowd at the state Capitol in Olympia.
The House passed the bill with a 55-43 vote on Feb. 8, one week after the Senate approved it. The gay marriage law is slated to take effect June 7.