Two California groups are collecting signatures for ballot initiatives that would restore gay marriage – or marriage equality – to California.

On Friday, the group Yes on Equality ( was given the green light by the secretary of state to proceed with collecting signatures for an initiative that would repeal Proposition 8, the hotly contested ballot measure that yanked back the right to marry from gay and lesbian couples in the state.

California requires nearly 700,000 signatures to qualify an initiative. The group has until August 17 to collect those signatures in order for it to appear on the 2010 ballot. To achieve that goal, the group must collect 6,666 signatures each weekday. Additional signatures are needed to pad against disqualified signatures sinking the initiative.

The grassroots progressive group the Courage Campaign is the primary sponsor behind the effort. Also involved are Marriage Equality USA, Get To Know Us First, Join The Impact, Equality Action Now and Million Gay March.

San Jose State University political science professor Larry Gerstein said passage hinges on voter turnout.

“It's close, it's close every election,” Gerstein told KCBS news. “All the public opinion data out show that the voters are within two or three points on any particular day. What that really means is whoever gets the best turnout at any election is likely to prevail.”

The second petition aims to dissolve the institution of marriage in California.

The Domestic Partnership Initiative ( would substitute domestic partnership for marriage in California law. It would apply equally to both straight and gay couples, restoring marriage equality in the state.

Two straight male college students are behind the initiative. Ali Shams and Kaelan Housewright say Californians want government out the marriage business.

“A lot of people are ready for this,” Shams told gay weekly The Bay Area Reporter. “[The gay marriage fight] hasn't gone anywhere. All we're doing is wasting more and more money on a hopeless cause, because both sides are always going to disagree.”

But gay rights leaders in California appear uninspired by the proposal to replace marriage.

“[W]e don't want to see civil marriage eliminated for anyone,” Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, the primary backer of the No-on-8 campaign, told the paper.

Both groups are organizing before the California Supreme Court has ruled on a legal challenge to Proposition 8. That ruling is expected before June.