Gay marriage supporters in Maine will announce on Thursday, January 26 whether they will return to the ballot box this year or wait.

Equality Maine, the state's largest gay rights group, has collected nearly twice the number of signatures needed to put the question on the ballot.

In 2009, gay marriage foes narrowly (53%) repealed a gay marriage law approved by lawmakers with a “people's veto” at the ballot box, known as Question 1. Now, backers hope to make Maine the first state to legalize the institution through the same democratic process.

“Until we finally win marriage at the ballot, opponents will always claim that marriage is supported only by the courts and legislatures, but not by the people,” Betsy Smith, the group's executive director, told Bloomberg News.

Speaking to National Public Radio (NPR), Marc Solomon of Freedom to Marry, said he believes Maine could be first state to win marriage at the ballot box.

“We think 2012 is going to be the year that we actually win a state at the ballot and take away, really, our opponents' last good talking point that they have on this matter,” Solomon said.

Support for marriage equality has grown since 2009 in the Pine State. A survey released late last year shows a narrow majority of Mainers (51%) now support the institution.