Ballot measures approving same-sex marriage and the recreational use of marijuana were approved Tuesday by voters in a handful of states, signaling a historical social shift by popular vote.
Voters in Maine approved for the first time in history a measure that gives the right to same-sex couples to marry, while in Maryland voters also made history by upholding a new law allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state, according to CNN projections. Minnesota and Washington also had similar measures.
Colorado and Washington, meanwhile, voted to approve state initiatives legalizing marijuana, while Oregon voters turned away a similar initiative, CNN projections show.
"The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will. This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through," Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement late Tuesday.
"That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly."
Even as voters returned President Barack Obama to office for a second term, according to CNN projections, a key component of his signature health care reform law was on the line in a number of states.
In Alabama and Wyoming, voters approved measures to amend their state constitution to prohibit people from being compelled to participate in Obamacare.
The one exception appears to be Florida, where voters turned back a measure that would have prohibited people and businesses from participating in Obamacare.
"These laws may promise more than they can deliver," said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University Law School.
"What the laws certainly do is to give state officials more of a basis to go to court and challenge the national health care law."
Voters nationwide were deciding the outcome of nearly 180 ballot measures in 38 states. That's up from 159 in 2010, but down from 204 in 2008.
Voters in Florida, meanwhile, nixed a constitutional amendment that would have banned the use of public funds for abortions, according to a CNN projection.
The campaign pitted the Protect Florida Taxpayers and Parental Rights, which was primarily funded by a large collection of Catholic archdioceses across Florida, against Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood spent $3.2 million on ads to defeat the measure in Florida during the week heading into the election.
"The people of Florida have sent a clear message that politicians have no place in a woman's deeply personal and private medical decisions," said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
Results for key ballot initiatives:
A measure that would amend the state constitution to prohibit individuals and businesses from being compelled to participate in any health care system passed.
A measure to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes trailed narrowly with 89% of the vote in, according to CNN projections.
Propostion 30: Jerry Brown tax Increase
Voters headed to the polls on a measure sponsored by Gov. Jerry Brown that would increase personal income tax for seven years for those making more than $250,000 a year. It also increases the sales tax by 0.25% for four years.
Proposition 34: Death penalty
The state was voting on a measure to abolish capital punishment in California and make life imprisonment without the possibility of parole the maximum punishment for murder.
The measure, if approved, would apply retroactively to all death row inmates, whose sentences would be converted to life imprisonment.
Proposition 38: Other tax increase
A measure that would raise income taxes for almost all income levels for 12 years was on the ballot.
Under the measure, for its first four years, 60% of the revenue would be dedicated to K-12 education, 30% to debt reduction and 15% to early childhood programs. After four years, 85% of revenues would go to K-12 education and 15% to early childhood programs.
Gov. Jerry Brown is opposed to this measure, which competes with one he backs that would raise personal income taxes for seven years on those making more than $250,000 a year.
A measure to amend the state constitution to legalize and regulate the production, possession and distribution of marijuana for people age 21 and older passed.
The measure to amend the state constitution to prohibit individuals and businesses from being compelled to participate in any health care system was on the ballot. Under Florida state law, the measure requires 60% of the vote to pass.
Voters nixed a constitutional amendment that would have banned the use of public funds for abortions, with the exception of
rape, incest and cases where the mother's life is in danger, according to a CNN projection.
The effort to repeal a previous state law banning same-sex marriage passed, CNN projected.
The vote in support of a new law allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state of Maryland passed by a slim margin, CNN projected.
The measure was to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The state was voting on a measure to amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
The state was voting on a measure that prohibits federal and state government from requiring the purchase of health insurance.
The state was voting to change the state's current medical marijuana law for a more restrictive version.
A measure that would allow the commercial cultivation and sale of marijuana through state-licensed stores as well as unlicensed cultivation failed, according to a CNN projection.
The state was voting on a measure that would repeal a new state law that legalized same-sex marriage.
A measure that would legalize and regulate the production, possession and distribution of marijuana for people age 21 and older passed, according to CNN projections.
A measure to amend the state constitution to give residents the right to make their own health care decisions passed by a wide margin, according to CNN projections.