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,” he added.

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, frankly, un-American.”

Maine is the 31st state to reject gay marriage at the ballot box, but the first to do so after lawmakers approved the measure.