In a closely watched race that ran late into the night Tuesday, voters in Maine repealed a recent law that legalized same-sex marriage in the state.
During hours of vote counting, the two sides kept within one percentage point of each other. But opponents of the law finally broke away, holding on to
53 percent of the vote with 87 percent of the state's precincts reporting.
Turnout was higher than expected
, reaching 50 percent of the state's electorate, a solid 15 percent above the projected number. Elsewhere on the ballot, voters approved expanding the use of medical marijuana and shot down a measure that would allow the government to increase taxes.
The marriage referendum joined similar ballot measures -- most famously California's Proposition 8 last year -- in signaling the public's hesitance about the gay marriage-friendly direction taken by judges or, in this case, Maine's state legislature and governor. At least 30 other states have rejected gay marriage at the ballot box. In the opposite corner of the country, meanwhile, a Washington state referendum that would give gay couples similar legal rights to married couples appeared to be
heading for victory by a narrow margin.
Maine was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage through the legislative process. Gov. John Baldacci signed a bill approved by Democratic majorities in both houses of the state legislature on May 6. A day later, opponents of the measure filed the paperwork necessary to launch a people's veto, successfully halting the new law from taking effect in September.
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