An initiative to ask Florida’s citizens to ban gay marriage in the state is more than 20,000 signatures short of the required number, despite claims last month that the target had been reached.

Florida4Marriage.org want a question on the 2008 ballot on following amendment to the state’s constitution regarding civil marriage:

“This amendment protects marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognised.”

There is already a ban on same-sex marriage in Florida.

Revised numbers show that Florida4Marriage.org is 21,989 signatures short of the required 611,009.

There are two weeks left until the deadline.

A spokesman for the Department of State said that Miami-Dade County election officials had discovered duplicate signature reports, reports AP.

The Fairness for All Families campaign has launched a counter-attack in the form of a “Primary Day of Action” to educate Florida voters about the harmful consequences of the “marriage protection amendment.”

Volunteers from across the state will work the polls on January 29th and talk face-to-face with voters about opposing the amendment.

“Primary Day offers one of the best opportunities we’ll have all year to educate voters,” said Barbara DeVane, Board Member of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and a member of the Fairness Campaign’s Steering Committee.

“Once voters understand that this amendment will make it harder for all unmarried couples to care for each other, we know they will oppose it.”

Last week the national chairman of National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, the oldest civil rights group in America, joined the Fairness for All Families campaign.

Julian Bond, described as “an icon in the civil rights movement for nearly 50 years” and long time national Chairman of the NAACP, will serve on the honorary Board of the campaign, joining former US Attorney General Janet Reno.

The campaign is a coalition of more than 200 organisations and community leaders representing seniors, business leaders, consumer groups and social justice organisations.

“It is divisive. It’s harmful. It does not bring people together. It drives them apart,” Mr Bond said of the proposed constitutional amendment.