Supporters of gay marriage in Ohio have begun a campaign to repeal the state's 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union.

The group Freedom to Marry Ohio on Thursday submitted nearly 1,800 signatures to the Ohio Attorney General's office, the first step in putting the issue back on the ballot in either 2012 or 2013.

Ian James, who headed the group which led the unsuccessful 2004 campaign to defeat the ban, is leading the effort.

“We had to leave the country we love to be married,” James told Columbus CBS affiliate WBNS. “My husband and I were married in 2003 in Canada. But this isn't about us. This is about Ohio.”

If the Attorney General's office certifies 1,000 valid signatures and accepts the group's proposed language, supporters would need to collect 385,245 valid signatures from at least half of Ohio's 88 counties to qualify for the ballot.

Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, said that permitting gay and lesbian couples to marry would harm children.

“We don't think our children should be taught in public schools that homosexuality is the norm,” Burress said. “That's what's happened in these states where they have approved same-sex marriage. Once you approve same-sex marriage, then the children are the target.” (A video report is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

Freedom to Marry Ohio is co-chaired by four elected officials and backed by nine Ohio mayors, including Mayors David Berger of Lima, Michael Coleman of Columbus, Sara Drew of Stow, Frank Jackson of Cleveland, Edward Kelley of Cleveland Heights, Mark Mallory of Cincinnati, Gary Norton of East Cleveland, Don Plusquellic of Akron and Mike Summers of Lakewood.