Despite polls showing a closer race,
Maine easily shunned a gay marriage law on Tuesday.
With 87 percent of precincts reporting,
53 percent of voters said no to a gay marriage law approved by
lawmakers in the spring.
A No on 1 campaign party that featured
pro-gay marriage Maine leaders and prominent gay activists was
broadcast live on the Internet. But a little after midnight, screens
went blank as the party broke up without a resolution either way.
By Wednesday morning, however, the
campaign was ready to accept defeat, thanking supporters.
“Thank you,” Jesse Connolly,
campaign manager of No on 1, said in an email to backers. “Thank
you for everything you did. Thank you for digging deep and giving
one more dollar to run our TV ads, for making those phone calls for
one more hour.”
“Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of
Maine voters stood for equality, but in the end, it wasn't enough,”
Lee Swislow, the executive director of
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the Boston-based
group that first won marriage rights for gay couples in
Massachusetts, called the loss “painful.”
“Maine's same-sex couples – and our
allies and friends all over the country – are experiencing a world
of hurt and pain,” she said in a statement. “Mainers have been
denied full equality and full citizenship in their state. We have
been told to remain outsiders. Gay and lesbian couples must explain
this vote to their children.”
Then bravely added, “And at some
point, we will have to pick ourselves up and fight again.”
The loss comes on the first anniversary
of Proposition 8, the voter-approved California initiative that
banned gay marriage in the Sunshine State after gay activists had
prevailed in the courts.
But Maine was going to be different.
Unlike California, Maine gay marriage backers were not afraid to put
gay families in their ads – moms, dads and their kids – and
polling appeared to give proponents a slight edge.
Opponents argued that gay marriage was
a ploy to teach schoolchildren about being gay, the same message that
won over voters in California last year.
“We are disappointed and disheartened
by results in Maine,” Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay &
Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAD), said in a statement.
“It's wrong to take basic rights and protections away from
neighbors, friends and co-workers who just want the same opportunity
to care for their loved ones and families. It's wrong, unfair and,
Maine is the 31st state to
reject gay marriage at the ballot box, but the first to do so after
lawmakers approved the measure.