Voters in Maine have opted to repeal a new law which would give gay couples in the state the right to marry.

The latest figures show that 52.7 per cent of citizens voted against the new right, compared to 47.2 per cent in favour.

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The situation is now similar to that of California, where gay marriage was legalised but the right was withdrawn in November 2008 by the state’s voters.

Gay marriage is legal in five states – Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Iowa – but this right has been granted by courts or legislature, rather than voter preference.

Gay marriage campaigners have said they will keep fighting for equal rights.

Jesse Connolly, campaign manager for NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality, said: “We’re in this for the long haul. For next week, and next month, and next year – until all Maine families are treated equally. Because in the end, this has always been about love and family and that will always be something worth fighting for.”

He added: “I’m proud of this campaign because the stories we told and the images we shared were of real Mainers – parents who stood up for their children, and couples who simply wanted to marry the person they love.”