After this week’s U.S. election, President Obama received most of the limelight in the international press. But several foreign outlets have also tuned in to state-level ballot initiatives. Here’s a round-up of the best foreign coverage on gay marriage, eminent domain and legalizing marijuana. And check out Latitude News later today for a story on the global implications of legalizing marijuana in two U.S. states.
- Washington and Colorado passed ballot measures that legalize marijuana. As those states rectify their policies with federal laws (marijuana is still very illegal on the federal level), Washington’s neighbor to the north is feeling a contact high. Dana Larsen, who runs a campaign to legalize marijuana in British Columbia, tells the CBC, “We need to follow the example put forward by Washington state to end prohibition, to legalize it.” Canadian activists say legalizing will end unnecessary prison sentences and cripple drug gangs. Activist Jodie Emery says, “We’re both affected by the drug violence and the trade that goes across the border. And if Washington is going to legalize it — well it’s our turn to do it next.” But, for now, BC faces the same problem Washington state does: Canada’s national political leaders have no interest in legalizing.
- The Spectator, a right-of-center British journal, writes that — despite Mitt Romney’s defeat — the U.S. election wasn’t a total bust for conservatives: after all, libertarian ideas won at the ballot box around the nation. Besides the victory on marijuana, Maryland, Maine and Washington all chose to legalize gay marriage. In Minnesota, voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have limited marriage rights to same-sex couples. And Virginians decided that they would no longer allow “eminent domain” — the seizure of private property by the government — in most circumstances. The Spectator argues:
All this is encouraging and a reminder of how the states can still be the little laboratories of democracy they are supposed to be. The people are often ahead of the politicians on these matters and experience has shown that marriage and drugs reform are not the scary invitations to Armageddon we were told they were.
- Meanwhile, the French government is doing its best to keep up with Maryland, Maine and Washington. This week it announced plans to introduce gay marriage and adoption by gay couples despite objections from France’s right-wing and religious leaders. The Guardian reports that 12 countries have legalized gay marriage so far, including Canada, South Africa and Portugal. With 60 million people, France would be the largest. Spain’s top court is also expected to confirm a gay marriage law enacted in 2005. Since then, 20,000 gay couples have been married, according to El Pais. And in Belgium, where same-sex marriage was legalized in 2003, there were 7,500 gay marriages between 2004 and 2009.