AUGUSTA – Proponents of a citizens’ initiative to allow same-sex marriage in Maine said today the language for the legislation they drafted was recently approved by the Secretary of State.

This allows supporters to begin printing petitions and gathering signatures to reach their goal of placing the issue before Mainers on the November 2012 ballot. They need at least 57,277 signatures from registered Maine voters and will have until January to turn in their petitions to Secretary of State Charlie Summers.

“We’re excited for the signature gathering phase of this campaign to start,” said Rita Clifford of Scarborough in a release.

The door-to-door effort will begin this weekend, according to the release.

Passage of the referendum would allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain marriage licenses in Maine, but not require churches to perform any marriage that conflicts with their teachings.

Same-sex marriage proponents also announced the creation of their new political action committee – Dirigo Family PAC – which will raise and distribute funds for their campaign.

Maine voters overturned a same-sex marriage law passed by lawmakers in 2009. Opponents of the measure that led the people’s veto effort have pledged to campaign against the latest attempt to legalize gay marriage as well.