Citizens of Maine will be asked to vote in favour of equal marriage rights for gay couples after a petition by marriage equality advocates secured enough signatures for a second public referendum.

Maine’s Secretary of State, Charlie Summers, confirmed that the measure would go to a state-wide ballot yesterday.

The vote is expected to take place in November of this year.

Maine’s legislature passed equal marriage laws in 2009 but in a state-wide ballot with echoes of Proposition 8, the majority of voters reversed the legislature’s decision before the laws came into effect..

Nearly 53% of Maine citizens voted against allowing gays to marry in 2009 but campaigners are committed to changing minds through doorstep campaigns and encouraged by rising support for equal marriage across the US.

The Equality Maine group said a recent poll showed public opinion tipping in favour of marriage equality.

Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director of Freedom to Marry, issued the following statement in response to the news: “Over the past few years, marriage supporters have been talking to their friends, families, coworkers and neighbors about why marriage matters.

“As we work to win at the ballot, Freedom to Marry will be there every step of the way alongside Equality Maine, GLAD, and others to continue telling the stories of why marriage matters to loving, committed gay and lesbian couples in Maine, and secure a win at the ballot this November.”

Equality Maine had attracted 85,000 verified signatures with another 30,000 left to be checked. 57,000 were required, they said.

Betsy Smith, EqualityMaine Executive Director said: “Same-sex couples want to marry for the same reasons other couples want to marry: because they love each other and want to spend their lives together.

“There’s no question that momentum is growing for same-sex marriage in Maine.”