Maine became the 31st state to block same-sex marriage through a public referendum, a result that will force supporters to rethink their national strategy at a crucial time for the movement. With 84 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday, the repeal proposal had 53 percent of the vote, even though polls had indicated the race was a dead heat.
This year three other states — Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont — joined Massachusetts and Connecticut in allowing same-sex marriage, but only through court rulings and legislative action. Maine, with its libertarian leanings, had seemed to offer an excellent chance of reversing the long national trend of voters rejecting marriage equality at the ballot box.
Some said the loss was a sign that the state-by-state approach favored by the largest gay-rights groups had failed and that the focus should move to reversing the federal ban on same-sex marriage, which Congress can reverse without voter approval. Others argued that the defeat only reinforced the need to keep winning grassroots support.