The campaign to restore gay marriage in California has altered course. The campaign has pushed back plans for a gay marriage referendum originally planned for June 2010; the group now says voters will decide in November.

Several outlets reported Wednesday that California Secretary of State Debra Bowen had approved a third referendum initiative to legalize gay marriage in the state.

The third initiative, however, is not new. The text of the initiative is nearly identical to the current petition being circulated by Yes! On Equality, the official sponsor of the initiative.

“Yes! [On Equality] is no longer gathering signatures for the first initiative, but will still use those pages of signatures as contacts for when it's time to continue gathering signatures,” Brandon Ross, a spokesman for Yes! On Equality, confirmed to On Top Magazine in an email.

The change means the campaign will begin from scratch collecting signatures from the 694,354 registered voters needed to qualify the question. Proponents have 150 days (to November 19, 2009) to gather the necessary signatures.

Yes! On Equality's measure would restore gay marriage to California by striking out language from the state constitution that defines marriage as a heterosexual union. Last November, after the state Supreme Court granted gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, voters narrowly approved a gay marriage amendment, Proposition 8. In May, the same court upheld the constitutionality of the measure (but refused to divorce 18,000 couples wed during the window when gay marriage was available.)

Even before the ruling two groups had been working on measures that would restore marriage equality in the state. The second petition, sponsored by two straight college students, seeks to restore equality for gay and lesbian couples by altering all unions to domestic partnerships, a union that approximates marriage currently offered to gay couples.

Yes! On Equality would not comment on how many signatures it had gathered for its original petition.