“The institution of marriage has been preserved in Maine and across the nation,” said Frank Schubert, the chief organizer for Stand for Marriage Maine, which lobbied for the repeal.

For the gay rights movement, which has gained a foothold in New England, it was a stinging defeat. Gay marriage has now lost in every state — 31 in all — in which it has been put to a popular vote. Gay-rights activists had hoped to buck that trend in Maine, framing same-sex marriage as a matter of equality for all families in a campaign that used 8,000 volunteers to get out the message.

Five states have legalized gay marriage — Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut — but all did so through legislation or court rulings, not by popular vote.

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