Former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan has stepped down as chair of an effort to repeal Ohio's gay marriage ban as established gay rights groups express reservations over the proposed ballot issue.

Last week, the Ballot Board cleared a proposed amendment which would legalize gay marriage in the state. It would repeal a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union, which passed in 2004 with overwhelming support.

Nascent group Freedom to Marry Ohio now must collect roughly 385,000 valid signatures from at least half of Ohio's 88 counties to get their proposal on next year's ballot.

Three established gay rights groups appear to be steering clear of the effort, each saying the timing isn't right.

Freedom to Marry, the nation's largest group devoted to the issue of marriage equality, told the Gay People's Chronicle that it is not behind the effort.

“Ballot measures are expensive and we need to do years of groundwork, hit benchmarks, and get the state to where we can win,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry. “Getting to the ballot is the last step. It should never be the first step.”

Ohio Public Radio reported that the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate, has said it also was withholding its endorsement.

Ed Mullen, executive director for Equality Ohio, the state's largest gay rights advocate, told The Columbus Dispatch that sufficient “research and analysis has not been done that would make this a successful effort.”

The lack of support prompted Hagan, Freedom to Marry Ohio's high-profile chair, to quit.

“Because there's not a unified voice, certainly among the gay community, we need to take a step back and make sure everybody is singing from the same hymnal,” Hagan told Ohio Public Radio.

Freedom to Marry Ohio is helmed by Ian James, who also headed the group which unsuccessfully campaigned in 2004 to defeat the ban.

James brushed aside the problems, telling the Dispatch that the ballot issue was moving forward.

“It's going to be a challenge to overturn the marriage ban. But it has to begin sometime, and the time is now,” said James. “We have tens of thousands of people out there who want the freedom to marry. We are not going to let them down. … We're not stopping.”