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Maine Gay Marriage Referendum: Results, Updates

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*****CHECK BACK HERE TONIGHT FOR RESULTS*****

***UPDATE 10:14PM*** Early returns show the vote is close:

Gay marriage was put to a vote in Maine on Tuesday in a closely watched referendum that gay-rights activists across the country hoped would prove for the first time that their cause can prevail at the ballot box.

Voters had to decide whether to repeal or affirm a state law that would allow gay couples to wed. The law was passed by the Legislature in May but never took effect because of a petition drive by conservatives.

Early returns showed a close contest, as had been forecast. With 70 of 608 precincts reporting, the gay-marriage side had 53 percent to 47 percent for the other side.

A vote to uphold the law would mark the first time that the electorate in any state endorsed gay marriage. That could energize activists nationwide and blunt conservative claims that same-sex marriage is being foisted on states by judges or lawmakers over the will of the public.

However, repeal - in New England, the region of the country most supportive of gay couples - would be another heartbreaking defeat for the marriage-equality movement, following the vote against gay marriage in California a year ago.

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Gay marriage was put to a vote in Maine on Tuesday in a closely watched referendum that gay-rights activists across the country hoped would prove that public opinion is turning in their favor. Turnout has been higher than expected, which analysts say favors supporters of same-sex marriage.

Voters had to decide whether to repeal or affirm a state law that would allow gay couples to wed. The law was passed by the Legislature last May but never took effect because of a petition drive by conservatives.

A vote to uphold the law would mark the first time that the electorate in any state endorsed gay marriage. That could energize activists nationwide and blunt conservative claims that same-sex marriage is largely being foisted on states by judges and that the public is not ready to embrace the idea.

However, repeal -- in New England, the region of the country most supportive of gay couples -- would be another heartbreaking defeat for the marriage-equality movement, following the vote against gay marriage in California a year ago.

It would also mark the first time voters had torpedoed a gay-marriage law enacted by a legislature. When Californians rejected same-sex marriage, it was in response to a court ruling, not legislation.

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