Gay activists in California have fallen short of qualifying a ballot measure in 2010 that would repeal Proposition 8, the 2008 voter-approved initiative that defined marriage as a heterosexual union in the California Constitution and trumped a state Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

Monday was the deadline for repeal supporters to submit the nearly 695,000 signatures needed to qualify the issue for the November ballot. Sean Bohac, chairman of Restore Equality 2010, told The Associated Press that his all-volunteer group was unable to deliver on the goal.

Last year, leading gay rights groups – including Equality California, the state's largest – decided to sit out the effort to repeal the gay ban until 2012.

The groups cited money and time to organize as major considerations behind their decision to wait.

Bohac said the decision undermined his group's efforts, but added that his group is committed to restoring marriage equality in 2012.

Some gay marriage supporters in the state say their best bet lays in a federal court challenge to Proposition 8 that is widely expected to reach the Supreme Court. Others, however, disagree, saying the high court remains too conservative to overturn the ban.