The tide of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples -- which has swept across New England in recent months -- has stopped at Maine.
Voters rejected a state law Tuesday that would have allowed same-sex couples
to wed. The repeal comes just six months after the measure was passed by the Maine legislature
and signed by the Democratic Gov. John Baldacci.
Maine would have been the sixth state in the country to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, but instead becomes the 31st state to oppose the unions in a popular vote.
With 87 percent of precincts reporting as of 2 a.m. today, gay marriage opponents claimed 53 percent of the vote to supporters' 47 percent.
Marc Mutty, campaign manager for Stand for Marriage Maine which opposed gay marriages, claimed victory at a rally in Portland just after midnight. "We've struggled, we've worked against tremendous odds, as we've all known," he said. "We prevailed because the people of Maine, the silent majority, the folks back home spoke with their vote tonight."
Gay-rights activists had hoped Maine voters -- known for thier moderate, independent-minded views -- would have been the first to endorse same-sex marriage in a statewide ballot. In the five states performing gay marriages – Iowa
, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts -- the practice took effect after legislation or court order. New York and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, but do not grant them.