Opponents of gay marriage in Maine turned in petition signatures to force a “people's veto” on the recently enacted law Friday morning.

Representatives from the Stand for Marriage Maine coalition arrived to turn in their petition at the state Capitol in Augusta early Friday morning, Jesse Connolly, Campaign Manager for No on 1- Protect Maine Equality, said in an email.

“It's official: We are going to have to fight to protect marriage equality in Maine in November's ballot,” Communications Director Mark Sullivan said, then added: “But we have been gearing up for this moment for months and we are ready to defend Maine's marriage equality law. Now it's a reality.”

The start of gay marriage in Maine was scheduled to take place September 12 but will now be put on hold until after the results of the November election are known, if the petition is certified valid by the secretary of state's office.

Opponents of the law announced several weeks ago that they had gathered sufficient signatures to force a referendum. Mark Mutty, executive director of the group, said it took four weeks to gather the more than 55,000 signatures necessary to qualify the measure.

Stand for Marriage Maine is a coalition of anti-gay groups led by the National Organization for Marriage, the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, and the Catholic Diocese of Portland.

On the heels of the legalization of gay marriage in Iowa and Vermont, Maine's Legislature passed and Governor John Baldacci signed into law the gay marriage bill in May, making it the fifth state to legalize gay marriage. The next month, New Hampshire lawmakers passed gay marriage legislation as well.