With both sides hailing it as a message for the rest of the country, Maine became the first state whose voters repealed its gay rights law.

Tuesday's special election brought only one out of four voters to the polls, and the victory was slim - 52 percent, or 135,315 votes, to 48 percent, or 127,157 votes, with 93 percent of precincts reporting."Certainly, the right will feel emboldened by this, but again, I think it will definitely be a wakeup call across the country for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community," said Rebecca Isaacs, political director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

She and other gay rights supporters said the repeal would increase pressure for a federal law. Opponents said the federal government should learn a different lesson: Stay away from special protections for homosexuals.

Ten other states, and Washington, D.C., now have laws similar to Maine's, which would have barred discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit.

"I think you're going to continue to see these issues pop up across the country, because it seems a defining issue for liberalism going into the 21st century is granting special rights based on one's sexual preferences behind closed doors," said Randy Tate, executive director of the Christian Coalition.

Gov. Angus King, an independent who supported the law and became its main media spokesman in a low-key campaign, indicated the fight was not yet over.

"I think it's unfortunate," he said. "But we'll move forward, I think this is an evolutionary process."

The matter, however, should not be brought back before the Legislature "anytime in the immediate future," he said.

Maine lawmakers enacted a bill last spring adding sexual orientation to the protected classifications in Maine's 25-year-old human rights act. King signed it into law.