This November most people will be fixated on who becomes our next President, and who controls Congress. Both are exceptionally important, given the state of our economy. In many places in the US there are other things being decided on the ballots as well; things like referendum questions. These questions are on the ballot because citizens spent hours gathering signatures so that the people can decide the issues that are important to them. In my home state, Maryland, we have 7 referendum questions, a large number, that are state wide issues.
There are a few that are so contentious that they must also be issues in other areas of the country. They are also issues that in many cases here, our dishonest Governor pre-empted or circumvented the populace in order to get his way. We the people worked to vote to tell him to stop it. The questions are worded in a confusing manner, so here’s what they mean. Even if you don’t live in Maryland, they could be questions on your own ballot.
One of these issues is Question 4 – Public Institutions of Higher Education – Tuition Rates: better known as The Dream Act. The question “Establishes that individuals, including undocumented immigrants, are eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at community colleges in Maryland, provided the student meets certain conditions relating to attendance and graduation from a Maryland high school, filing of income taxes, intent to apply for permanent residency, and registration with the selective service system (if required); makes such students eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at a four-year public college or university if the student has first completed 60 credit hours or graduated from a community college in Maryland; provides that students qualifying for in-state tuition rates by this method will not be counted as in-state students for purposes of counting undergraduate enrollment; and extends the time in which honorably discharged veterans may qualify for in-state tuition rates.”
Yes, that’s right, illegal immigrants are now, under Maryland law, given in-state tuition rates. They are rewarded for breaking the law by paying lower tuition rates. Not only that, but they are required to further break the law by filing tax returns – something you can’t do without a social security number, which illegal immigrants cannot have. This also means that they can apply for (with those fraudulent tax returns and SSN’s) financial aid, taking it from naturally born citizens who need it.
Voting “For” would allow in-state tuition for “undocumented” (illegal) immigrants. Voting “Against” would prohibit in-state tuition for “undocumented” (illegal) immigrants.
The next issue is Question 5 Congressional Districting Plan. Governor O’Malley blatantly gerrymandered the Congressional District map in Maryland to give democrats more seats in the House. Question 5 “Establishes the boundaries for the State’s eight United States Congressional Districts based on recent census figures, as required by the United States Constitution.”
Voting “For” would uphold the controversial and gerrymandered 2012 Congressional Redistricting Plan as proposed by Governor O’Malley. Voting “Against” would overturn the controversial and gerrymandered 2012 Congressional Redistricting Plan and require the Maryland General Assembly to approve a new Congressional Redistricting Plan.
Next: Gay Marriage. Question 6 Civil Marriage Protection Act. Maryland passed a law approving gay marriage. Churches and other organizations across the State collected tens of thousands of signatures more than were needed to put it on the ballot. Question 6 “Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.”
Voting “For” would redefine marriage and allow same-sex marriages within the State of Maryland. Voting “Against” would overturn the law allowing same-sex marriages within the State of Maryland.
The only part of the wording on this question that I agree with is the fact that religious organizations cannot be forced to perform gay marriages. It was a concession grudgingly given, but one that could have had the law overturned in the courts since it would have forced churches to do something against their conscience and government is not allowed to dictate what churches must do … although given the SCOTUS decision on Obamacare, I wouldn’t be so sure about that…
These issues are not just limited to Maryland. They are issues that are being debated all over the nation. Understanding exactly what those questions that may show up on your own ballot in your own state is exceedingly important. Make your vote count … make your voice be heard!
Image courtesy of Gzuckier at the English language Wikipedia