Maine voters latest to turn down gay marriage

Wed Nov 4, 2009 3:04am EST
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By Ros Krasny

PORTLAND, Maine (Reuters) - Voters in Maine on Tuesday overturned a law allowing same-sex couples to wed, dealing a fresh setback to the U.S. gay marriage movement in a race that attracted national attention.

The law was approved by Maine's Legislature in May but was not implemented after opponents gathered enough signatures to put the issue to a "people's veto."

With 87 percent of precincts reporting, votes to reject the law were running at 52.75 percent to 47.25 percent, according to unofficial tallies from the Bangor Daily News.

Frank Schubert, chief organizer of the "Yes on 1" campaign to reject same-sex marriage in the state, claimed victory early on Wednesday, although his opponents refused to concede.

Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont are the only U.S. states where a same-sex marriage law is on the books. In each instance, the laws were approved by legislatures and judges, not by popular vote.

Citizens in some 30 states before Maine voted against same-sex marriages.

The referendum in sparsely populated Maine was thrust onto the national stage, attracting large levels of funding and battle-hardened strategists.

The outcome is "further evidence that although voters have shown tolerance toward same sex couples, they draw the line at marriage," said Jeff Flint, a partner with Schubert Flint Public Affairs in Sacramento, who worked on California's "Yes on 8" campaign in 2008. "They feel marriage is different."   Continued...

<p>Gay marriage supporters Barb Wood (R) and Margaret O'Connell (C), comfort Tim Diehl as they wait for election results at the No on 1/Protect Maine Equality election night rally in Portland, Maine November 4, 2009. The group is working to prevent the repeal of Maine's gay marriage law, which was adopted last spring by Maine's legislature. REUTERS/Joel Page</p>