Stunned and angry, national gay rights leaders Wednesday blamed scare-mongering ads — and President Barack Obama's lack of engagement — for a bitter election setback in Maine that could alter the dynamics for both sides in the gay-marriage debate.


Conservatives, in contrast, celebrated Maine voters' rejection of a law that would have allowed gay couples to wed, depicting it as a warning shot that should deter politicians in other states from pushing for same-sex marriage.

"Every time the citizens have voted on marriage, they have always sided with natural marriage," said Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based Christian legal group. "Maine dramatically illustrates the will of the people, and politicians should wake up and listen."

Gay activists were frustrated that Obama, who insists he staunchly supports their overall civil rights agenda, didn't speak out forcefully in defense of Maine's marriage law before Tuesday's referendum. The law was repealed in a vote of 53 percent to 47 percent.

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