-- Voters in Texas and Maine rendered a split verdict Tuesday on gay rights, while partial victory was the best California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could hope for in his power struggle with public-employee unions and Democratic legislators.
Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, making their state the 19th to take that step. In Maine, however, voters rejected a conservative-backed proposal to repeal the state's new gay-rights law.
In California, voters rejected two measures promoted by the hard-campaigning Schwarzenegger. The proposals would have capped state spending and stripped lawmakers of their redistricting powers.
A third Schwarzenegger-backed measure was trailing with about 45 percent of precincts reporting; it would make teachers work five years instead of two to pass probation. The only one of the governor's four proposals with a lead _ by a slim margin _ would require public-employee unions to get members' permission before their dues could be used for political purposes.
The same-sex marriage contest in Texas was lopsided; near-complete returns showed the gay-marriage ban supported by about 76 percent of voters. Like every other state except Massachusetts, Texas didn't permit same-sex marriages previously, but the constitutional amendment was touted as an extra guard against future court rulings.
"Texans know that marriage is between a man and a woman, and children deserve both a mom and a dad. They don't need a Ph.D. or a degree in anything else to teach them that," said Kelly Shackelford, a leader Texans For Marriage, which favored the ban.
Gay-rights leaders were dismayed by the outcome, but vowed to continue a state-by-state battle for recognition of same-sex unions.
"The fight for fairness isn't over, and we won't give up," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. "These amendments are part of a long-standing effort by the extreme right to eliminate any legal recognition for gay people and our families."
In a local Texas election, voters in White Settlement, named 160 years ago after white settlers moved into a mostly Indian area, emphatically rejected a proposal to change the town's name to West Settlement. Some civic leaders felt the traditional name should be changed to lure business investment; nearly 92 percent of voters disagreed.
In Maine, voters spurned a measure placed on the ballot by a church-backed conservative coalition that would have repealed a gay-rights law approved by lawmakers earlier this year. The lawmakers expanded the state's human rights act to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, a step already taken by the five other New England states.
In near-complete returns, about 55 percent of voters were opposing repeal of the new law, which is broadly worded to protect transsexuals and transvestites as well as gays and lesbians.
"This is such a much-needed victory for our national community, because we've experienced so many losses," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "We've got to press forward on nondiscrimination protection, and not let marriage continue to swamp the movement."
California voters, in addition to voting on Schwarzenegger's measures, also were deciding whether to require doctors to give a parent or guardian written notice before performing an abortion on a minor. More than 30 states have laws requiring parental notice or consent; the contest was neck-and-neck with 45 percent of precincts reporting.
In Washington state, voters approved a measure expanding the state's ban on indoor smoking to include bars, restaurants and non-tribal casinos.
New Jersey voters approved a proposal to have an elected lieutenant governor who would take over if a sitting governor leaves office early. The measure was a response to the gay sex scandal that drove former Gov. James McGreevey from office and installed Senate President Richard Codey as acting governor even as he retained his Senate duties. New Jersey has been one of eight states with no lieutenant governor.
In Republican-governed Ohio, where the 2004 presidential election was marked by complaints of unfair election practices, four election-overhaul measures backed by Democratic-leaning groups were on the ballot, but all were defeated. One of the failed items would have taken redistricting powers away from legislators.