An Oregon petition drive to put the issue of gay marriage before voters next year has hit its goal of 116,284 signatures needed to qualify for the 2014 ballot.

The group Oregon United for Marriage announced the milestone Saturday in an email to supporters.

β€œIt's been just four months since we started gathering signatures on the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative,” said Ryan Brown, the group's field director. β€œThanks to volunteer signature gatherers in every Oregon county, I have some amazing news to share: We have over 116,284 signatures in hand!”

Signature gathering will continue to guard against failing to qualify due to invalid or duplicate signatures.

If successful, the referendum would reverse the state's 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples and Oregon would make history as the first state to repeal a marriage ban.

Last month, Oregon Family Council, the Christian conservative group that spearheaded the amendment campaign, announced it was working on a ballot initiative that would allow businesses and individuals to refuse participating in or supporting same-sex unions, including marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships. Since 2007, Oregon has recognized gay couples with domestic partnerships.

Teresa Harke, the group's communications director, told the Portland Tribune that the measure was needed to protect marriage equality opponents who are afraid to speak their minds.