Gay rights advocates in Maine, US, have begun airing TV advertisements to encourage voters to protect equality.

The ad, sponsored by Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the Equality Maine Foundation and the Maine Civil Liberties Union Foundation, features a variety of straight and gay couples with their families talking about fairness and marriage equality.

The state is preparing for a referendum on the issue in November after gay marriage opponents announced they had collected the necessary amount of signatures to get it on the ballot.

Maine legalised gay marriage in May and the law was due to come into effect on September 12th. However, it has now been held back as officials verify petitions submitted.

A referendum is thought to be certain after opposing group Stand For Marriage collected nearly double the 55,087 signatures needed.

If voters are persuaded to keep gay marriage, Maine will be the sixth state to legalise it after Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Iowa.

To watch the video, scroll down.