Gay marriage loses in Maine

With Maine added to the list gay marriage has now lost in all 31 states in which it has been put to a public referendum.

Gay-rights activists had hoped to buck that trend in Maine — known for its moderate, independent-minded electorate — and mounted an energetic, well-financed campaign.

With 87 percent of the precincts reporting, gay-marriage foes had 53 percent of the votes.

“The institution of marriage has been preserved in Maine and across the nation,” declared Frank Schubert, chief organizer for the winning side.

Gay-marriage supporters held out hope that the tide would shift before conceding defeat at 2:40 a.m. in a statement that insisted they weren’t going away.

In Kalamazoo, Mich., voters approved a measure that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation. [See the ad local Episcopalians ran supporting the measure.]

Among other ballot items across the country:

• In Ohio, voters approved a measure that will allow casinos in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo. Four similar measures had been defeated in recent years, but this time the state’s reeling economy gave extra weight to arguments that the new casinos would create thousands of jobs.

• Maine voters defeated a measure that would have limited state and local government spending by holding it to the rate of inflation plus population growth. A similar measure was on the ballot in Washington state.

• Another measure in Maine, which easily won approval, will allow dispensaries to supply marijuana to patients for medicinal purposes. It is a follow-up to a 1999 measure that legalized medical marijuana but did not set up a distribution system.

• The Colorado ski town of Breckenridge voted overwhelmingly to allow adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana.

Read the AP report here.

In the state of Washington a majority of voters approved partnership benefits for same-sex couples. Readers: Is that the first state where those benefits have been approved via state-wide referendum rather than by legislation or the courts?

Republicans won in all state level races in Virginia, and in the blue state of New Jersey governor’s race the Republican candidate won.

In the Virginia governor’s race many independents who had voted for Obama in 2008 voted for the Republican Bob McDonnell in 2009. Turnout by voters under 30 and by black voters also dropped significantly compared to the high water mark set in the 2008 general election. Some political junkies speculated the Democrat Creigh Deeds miscalculated and should have run as an Obama Democrat. The theory is that could have energized more liberals to vote, and convinced more independents of the advantages of having a Democratic governor while the Democrats are in power in Washington.

Some supporters of gay marriage criticized Obama for not taking a position on the Maine referendum.

Addendum. Salon points out: “Chapel Hill, N.C., elected a gay man as mayor; Detroit’s new city council president is gay as well. In Houston, a lesbian mayoral candidate will go into a run-off having won a plurality on Tuesday.”

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