The majority of voters in Maine rejected a law on Tuesday that allowed gay and lesbian couples to wed.
After months of campaigning and millions of dollars in ads, traditional marriage supporters claimed victory at the ballot box with 53 percent of the vote.
"This has never been about gay rights," said Marc Mutty, chairman of Stand for Marriage Maine, according to the Los Angeles Times. "It's about marriage, and this is reaffirmation by the people of Maine that marriage between men and women is special and unique."
The state law legalizing same-sex marriage was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. John Baldacci in May. Before the law could go into effect in September, opponents submitted enough signatures for a "people's veto," subjecting the measure to repeal.
While gay rights advocates were hoping to make history by affirming same-sex marriage by popular vote, their votes came up short on Tuesday.
"Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of Maine voters stood for equality, but in the end, it wasn't enough," said Jesse Connolly, campaign manager for No on 1/Protect Maine Equality.
He assured supporters that their efforts would not stop and that they were in this for the long haul "because in the end, this has always been about love and family and that will always be something worth fighting for."
Whenever given the opportunity, U.S. voters have upheld the traditional definition of marriage. Constitutional amendments affirming marriage as between one man and one woman have been passed in 29 states in the past 10 years and statutes to the same effect have been adopted in another 15 states, according to the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
Recent polls have also shown that the majority of American voters continue to oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage. According to the Gallup Poll, 57 percent of Americans say marriages between same-sex couples should not be recognized by the law as valid while 40 percent say such marriages should be legal.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in five states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa and New Hampshire – all of which passed the laws through legislation or court rulings.