Billion-dollar deficits and the federal stimulus package are big issues in state capitals this year. But at a time when states are weathering the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, lawmakers also are taking up a sweeping assortment of social policy questions, ranging from gay marriage to the death penalty to abortion.
In one of the most noteworthy developments so far this year, Vermont and Iowa joined Massachusetts and Connecticut in legalizing gay marriage. Californians are waiting to see whether the state's highest court will uphold or overturn their decision last fall to block gay marriages. The court will also decide on the validity of 18,000 gay marriages that took place in the state after the state's highest court approved gay marriage and before voters blocked such unions.
While gay marriage is getting the most attention, other social issues are also coming to the fore, in some cases because of the dire economic situation facing states.
Read the full report Social Issues Compete With Fiscal Policy on Stateline.org.