The US state of Maine will decide today whether a recent law allowing gay marriage should be allowed to remain.

Maine legalised gay marriage in May and the law was due to come into force on September 12th. However, it was shelved after religious groups announced they had collected enough signatures to push for a voter referendum on the issue.

The situation is similar to that of California, where gay marriage was legalised but the right was withdrawn in November 2008 by the state’s voters.

If voters are persuaded to keep gay marriage, Maine will be the sixth state to legalise it after Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Iowa.

A poll of 1,000 eligible voters in the state by Public Policy Polling last month found that 48 per cent were in favour of the new rights and 48 per cent were against it.

A more recent, but much smaller survey of 400 people by the Pan-Atlantic SMS Group found that 53 per cent wanted gay marriage in the state with 42 per cent opposed.