The fight to win back gay marriage has begun in California.

Yesterday, gay rights group Love Honor Cherish launched its campaign to get one million signatures in favour of repealing the ban.

The gathering of signatures began yesterday after proposed language for the November 2010 ballot was approved.

Campaigners have until April to collect the necessary petitions.

Love Honor Cherish has also unveiled a net-based campaign, SignForEquality.com, to spread the news and encourage people to put their names to the effort.

John Henning, who is heading the SignForEquality.com effort as executive director of the group, said: “SignForEquality.com will make history by using custom social networking tools, as well as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, to support an all-volunteer signature drive to repeal Prop 8.

“People throughout California can now help us win marriage back by the simple act of signing and collecting signatures.”

Gay marriage was legalised in California in May 2008. However, Prop 8, which was passed by 52 per cent of the state’s voters, defined marriage as being between a man and a woman last November. Supporters of gay marriage argued the initiative was unconstitutional and discriminatory.

In May 2009, Supreme Court judges rejected an argument from gay marriage supporters that the ban was unconstitutional but unanimously ruled that the 18,000 gay couples who married while gay marriage was legal will stay wed.

More than 40 groups are aiming to place the measure on the November 2010 ballot, but others have said the fight should be resumed in 2012.

Equality California warned in August that raising the money needed to fight Prop 8 next year could be difficult and said that the battle for hearts and minds could be won more solidly in a two-year timeframe. Last year, £80 million was spent on the pro-gay marriage campaign.

In other states that allow gay marriage, the right has only been granted through the courts or legislature. It has never been granted by voters.