Up to 200 churches on Sunday are expected to participate in special Father's Day plate offerings to raise money in support of the campaign to defeat a ballot question which would legalize gay marriage in Maine.

Marriage equality supporters are returning the issue to the ballot box after voters in 2009 narrowly repealed a marriage law approved by lawmakers with a “people's veto,” known as Question 1. If approved, Maine would become the first state to legalize such unions with a popular vote.

The offerings will benefit Protect Marriage Maine, the coalition of groups working to defeat passage of the ballot question.

“The messaging we're using is that those who are seeking to redefine marriage in Maine believe there's no difference between moms and dads,” Carroll Conley Jr., executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, an evangelical organization and a member of Protect Marriage Maine, told the AP. “We believe those differences are relevant. We don't think the differences in the genders are societally imposed roles, and we believe that children benefit when they're in that ideal environment where there's a mom and dad.”

Denominations participating in the fundraising include Baptist, Pentecostal, Nazarene, Church of God, Wesleyan, Evangelical Free, Advent Christian and others. Maine's Catholic diocese, a driving force behind the 2009 repeal effort, earlier said it would not actively participate in the campaign, instead focusing on teaching Catholics about how it defines marriage.

Sanford Unitarian Universalist Church is among the churches supporting passage of the marriage measure by hosting phone banks and holding educational forums and training sessions on door-to-door canvassing.

“What we want is for people to know that this is a religious issue,” said Rev. Sue Gabrielson.