RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
It was just last May that Maine's legislature approved same-sex marriage. In a referendum yesterday, the state's voters narrowly repealed that law after a hard-fought campaign.
Same-sex marriage laws have now been defeated in all 31 states where they have been placed on the ballot. Five states have granted same-sex marriage through the courts or their legislatures. Maine Public Broadcasting's Susan Sharon reports on the campaign.
SUSAN SHARON: Same-sex marriage advocates put together a massive campaign war chest, outspending opponents by a wide margin. They pounded the pavement and hit the airwaves and the blogosphere with a message of fairness and equality. But the message did not connect with the majority of Maine voters. And that was a profound disappointment for a crowd of several hundred who showed up at a hoped-for victory party in a Portland hotel ballroom.
Mr. JESSE CONNOLLY (Campaign Manager, Protect Maine Equality): This is about love and commitment and family, and so we'll stay the course. And I ask you to stay the course with us. Thanks so much.
(Soundbite of applause)
SHARON: Though he said he was proud of the campaign he ran with the help of 8,000 volunteers, campaign manager Jesse Connolly of Protect Maine Equality eventually conceded defeat in a short written statement. Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, a smaller group of same-sex marriage opponents was celebrating.
Mr. MARC MUTTY (Campaign Chair, Stand for Marriage Maine): We prevailed because the people of Maine, the silent majority, the folks back home spoke with their vote tonight.
(Soundbite of cheering)
SHARON: Marc Mutty is the campaign chair of Stand for Marriage Maine.
Mr. MUTTY: And let's be clear. What the people of Maine had to say was that marriage matters, and that it's between a man and a woman.
Unidentified Group: Yeah.
(Soundbite of cheering)
Mr. MUTTY: And this has never been about hating anyone, hating gays or anything. This has been about marriage, and only about marriage and preserving it.
SHARON: But Protect Maine Equality's Jesse Connolly has always maintained that same-sex marriage opponents deceived voters into thinking gay marriage and gay sex would be advocated and taught to students at public schools, even though Maine's attorney general and education commissioner said there was nothing in the law that related to school curricula.
For 14-year-old Sam Putnam and his family, the campaign for marriage equality has been a personal and gratifying one, no matter what the outcome. Putnam was thrust into the spotlight last spring when he chose to testify on behalf of his two moms at a public hearing. His testimony was put on YouTube. And before Putnam knew it, he was being asked to appear in a television advertisement.
Mr. SAM PUTNAM: I talked about how I'm an average teenager, which I am. I play sports for my school. I have a lot of friends. I'm an honor student. I participate in the community as much as I can. And no matter what happens tonight, it's not going to change me as a person at all. It's just going to change the way my family is being seen.
SHARON: Putnam says he's willing to wait a while longer for his two moms to be recognized the way he'd like. But Maine Governor John Baldacci says that day is coming.
Governor JOHN BALDACCI (Democrat, Maine): We may not get there as soon as I'd like to get there, but we're going to get there because that's the future.
SHARON: Gay marriage opponents see their victory in Maine as a sign that the institution of marriage cannot be undermined. Of the five states that have legalized same-sex marriage, four are in New England. More than 30 states have now rejected same-sex marriage by referendum.
For NPR News, I'm Susan Sharon in Portland, Maine.
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