A group of ministers in Cleveland have fallen short in their effort to abort a gay partner registry from taking effect, but say they are resolved to ending it.

United Pastors in Mission, a group of mostly black ministers led by president Rev. C. Jay Matthews of the Mount Sinai Baptist Church and director Rev. Marvin McMickle of Antioch Baptist Church, made the announcement on Wednesday.

Cleveland city leaders approved the registry at a Monday December 8 session by a 13-7 vote.

Cleveland's domestic partner registry allows gay and straight couples to seek recognition of their union from the city. Ohio passed one of the toughest gay marriage bans in the country four years ago. To ensure that the registry does not run afoul of the state's prohibition it lacks any force of law and guarantees no protections whatsoever. Any benefits given to couples would be strictly voluntary.

The failure to collect about 11,000 signatures before the January 5 deadline means the registry will take effect. Matthews said only a few thousand signatures were collected, and blamed the loss on the holiday time frame. But the ministers said they will pursue a second course of action to end the registry.

The “ordinance by initiative” option laid out by the city charter allows the group to submit legislation directly to council leaders. It requires only 5,000 signatures and there are no time limits. If the council refuses to vote against its own measure, then the issue would go before the voters.

Over 70 cities and counties nationwide offer gay domestic partner registries. Lawmakers in the Mormon stronghold of Utah will take up the question next month.

Openly gay Councilman Joe Santiago, who backed the creation of the registry, questioned the resolve of the ministers, saying he was uncertain how well organized the group was.

“There are activists out there that are just vehemently against such measures,” Santiago told 'On Top Magazine'. “They have a perception that this is part of a gay agenda, the start of a process to allow for gay marriage. And that's just not true. ... The registry benefits both gay and straight couples.”

The ministers say they oppose the registry on religious grounds.

“That lifestyle goes against God,” Matthews told a 'Plain Dealer'reporter.