Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has endorsed an effort to legalize gay marriage in Oregon by signing on to an initial petition calling for a 2014 referendum to reverse the state's 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual unions.

Oregon United for Marriage launched its petition drive on Valentine's Day.

Kitzhaber and former Governor Barbara Roberts, both Democrats, were among the first of 1,000 needed for an initial sponsorship petition at an event in Portland. After that, 116,284 valid signatures will be needed to qualify for the ballot.

“As more and more people come to understand that committed couples, whether they are gay or straight, hope to marry for similar reasons, they're coming to realize that this is much more than a political issue,” said Roberts in a statement. “This is about love, commitment and family.”

The campaign's kickoff included events in 14 cities throughout the state.

“We are inviting our partners and supporters to take this next step with us: To sign the sponsorship petition, and commit to uniting Oregon in support of the freedom to marry for all Oregonians,” said Jeana Frazzini, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, a Oregon United for Marriage coalition partner. (Video from the campaign's kickoff is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)