Opponents of San Antonio's recently enacted gay-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance have failed in a bid to force a referendum on the law.

Organizers fell short of gathering the 61,046 valid signatures, or 10% of eligible voters, needed before Tuesday's deadline to put the issue on the ballot.

Pastor Gerald Ripley, who championed the petition, estimated that opponents had collected roughly one-third of the required signatures.

Ripley blamed city rules which allow 40 days to collect the signatures for the loss.

“We were gaining momentum,” Riley told the San Antonio Express-News. “It would have been very interesting. This was the option open to us. There were people still finding out about this [on Tuesday] and new groups coming in.”

The San Antonio City Council approved the measure on September 5 with an overwhelming 8-3 vote.

The debate in San Antonio drew national attention as big-name Republicans weighed in against the measure, including Attorney General Greg Abbott and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Opponents argued that it would have a chilling effect on religious expression.

The debate boiled over after a secretly recorded tape surface in which Councilwoman Elisa Chan is heard calling gays “disgusting” and arguing that they are not fit to parent. She faced pressure to resign but instead defended her comments and voted against the ordinance.

(Related: Elisa Chan defends saying gays are “disgusting.”)

San Antonio joins nearly 180 cities nationwide with similar ordinances, including Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, Austin and El Paso.