A campaign has been launched by a gay and lesbian advocate group to allow same-sex marriage in all six states in New England by 2012.

Boston-based GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) announced the ‘Six by Twelve’ campaign on the fifth anniversary of the Massachusetts court ruling that legalised gay marriage, the first state in the country to do so.

The group have also had success in Connecticut, where after a state Supreme Court ruling the first same-sex weddings took place in November.

The Executive Director of GLAD, Lee Swislow said:

“By 2012 we not only can have marriage equality throughout New England, we can have a road map for the rest of the country.”

A state Supreme Court ruling in California in May allowed gay marriage, and an estimated 18,000 gay and lesbian couples took advantage of their new rights.

Voters approved a ballot measure in November that seeks to deny gay couples their marriage rights by changing the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Gay rights groups are challenging the validity of Proposition 8 in court.

Californian gay and lesbian couples can still register domestic partnerships but cannot get married.

GLAD hopes to achieve its aim of legal gay marriage in all New England states by collaborating with equality groups across the region.

Meanwhile in Washington, State Senator Ed Murray is working alongside five other members of government in order to increase the rights given to couples in domestic-partnerships.

Murray told The Olympian newspaper that he hopes to push for a same sex-marriage bill in the future, a move which opposing groups say they will fight.