Voters Approve Gaming Expansion, Same-sex Marriage

Gale Horton Gay | 11/7/2012, 9:55 a.m.

Maryland voters approved all six questions on the Nov. 6 ballot, resulting in legalizing same-sex marriage and making way for a casino in Prince George's County and giving undocumented immigrants the opportunity to send their children to college at more favorable in-state tuition rates.

Gaming Expansion Draws Winning Hand

Voters approved bringing more gaming to the state and Prince George's County, giving Question 7 overwhelming approval by a vote of 1.1 million votes [51 percent] to 1 million votes [48 percent].

The vote means that Maryland casinos will now be able to offer live table games such as black jack and roulette and the number of video lottery terminals can expand from 15,000 to 16,500. It also means that Prince George's County is now the site for the state's sixth casino.

Jim Murren, chairman and chief executive officer of MGM Resorts International, said Marylanders sorted through "an onslaught of dishonesty" and chose to support progress.

"No one expected such a vicious campaign, but common sense prevailed and Maryland will certainly benefit from our hard work to fight a campaign of unrestrained distortion," said Murren. "Starting today, MGM's talented team of designers and resort experts begin work on our proposal for a great destination resort for the people of Prince George's County and the state."

The Peterson Companies, developer of National Harbor, and MGM Resorts International have reached an agreement on developing a proposal for a destination resort casino at National Harbor.

Same-sex Marriage Vote Makes History

After months of contentious debate, Maryland voters have finally settled the same-sex marriage issue, approving the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which upholds legalization gay and lesbian unions by a vote of 51 percent to 48 percent.

"Fairness and equality under the law won tonight," said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. "We're sure to feel the ripples of this monumental victory across the country for years to come."

In addition to making it legal for gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, the new law, which goes into effect in January, also protects churches and clergy from having to perform any marriage that is against their religious beliefs and businesses from supplying services if the marriage is contrary to their religious beliefs.

Maryland made history with the vote. Legislatures and courts have legalized marriage equality in six states and the District, however, Maryland is the first state to legalize same-sex marriage through a vote by the people.

Marylanders Approve Dream Act

The law making undocumented immigrants who met certain criteria eligible to pay in-state tuition rates has been upheld by voters.

The heavily debated and controversial Question 4 was approved by 1.2 million votes [57 percent].

This means the law will go into effect and that undocumented immigrants and others who have attended and graduated from a Maryland high school, file income taxes and intend to apply for permanent residency are eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at four-year public colleges and universities.

Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the bill, also known as the Dream Act, into law in 2011 after it was approved by both houses of the Maryland General Assembly. However, after enough signatures had been collected and presented to the Maryland Secretary of State, the matter required a statewide vote.

Other Ballot Questions

Also approved by 87 percent of voters was Question 3, which amends the law so that an elected official is suspended when found guilty of certain crimes and is removed from office when the conviction becomes final or when the official pleads guilty or no contest.

This law will prevent situations from occurring such as in 2011 when Prince George's County Councilmember Leslie Johnson continued to sit on the Prince George's County Council despite pleading guilty to evidence and witness tampering.

New boundaries for the state's eight congressional districts received a favorable nod as did two questions concerning the qualifications of Prince George's County and Baltimore County Orphans Court judges.