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7 US States Ban Gay Marriage, South Dakota Overturns Abortion Ban

Voters in 37 U.S. states decided hundreds of ballot measures in Tuesday's election on subjects from gay marriage to abortion.

Seven states from Virginia to Wisconsin voted to ban gay marriage by amending their state constitutions, but voters in Arizona rejected a similar measure.

Arizonans, with 19 ballot issues to choose from, approved proposals to make English the state's official language and deny state services to illegal immigrants. They defeated a measure, however, that would have awarded $1 million to a randomly chosen voter in every general election.

South Dakota voters rejected a sweeping abortion ban, and a measure that would have stripped judges of immunity from lawsuits over their court decisions.

Six states voted to raise the minimum wage. Michigan rejected racial preferences for public universities.

California prohibited sex offenders from living within 600 meters of a school or park. Called Jessica's law, the measure was named after nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford, who was kidnapped and murdered last year in Florida.

The late girl's father told NBC News that his grief prompted the effort to help other children.

"You can't sit around and dwell on the things that you cannot change," he said. "You have to get up and you have to fight back."

Californians approved measures to rebuild the state's roads and levees, the water-retaining embankments along the Sacramento River. They also provided funds for schools and housing.

They rejected a measure, however, to create a $4 billion fund to promote alternative energy sources. It would have created a new tax on oil producers.

Ohio and Arizona approved restrictions on smoking in public places. Arizona and South Dakota approved higher tobacco taxes, but voters in Missouri and California rejected tax hikes for cigarettes.

Nevada and Colorado rejected proposals to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Nine states approved measures to bar the government from expropriating property for private development.

And voters in Missouri approved research using embryonic stem cells, a measure endorsed by actor Michael J. Fox. Fox suffers from Parkinson's disease, and says the experimental research offers hope for people like him.