Same-sex marriage advocates have failed to gather enough petition signatures to place on November's ballot a measure that would repeal Proposition 8's constitutional ban.

Though it didn't gather at least 694,354 valid signatures from registered voters by Monday's deadline, the Restore Equality 2010 Coalition insists the effort wasn't in vain, in that it sets a firm foundation for another try in 2012.

"It's a money problem, and it's a volunteer problem," said Love Honor Cherish executive director John Henning, whose Los Angeles-based group had led the coalition's petition effort. "We had some money and a lot of volunteer effort, but you're talking about close to a million signatures you need to get and 150 days to get them. "... We just didn't have quite the volunteer army that was needed."

Brian Brown, executive director of National Organization for Marriage, whose group was the largest donor to Prop. 8, issued a statement Monday saying this effort failed "because the majority of Californians do not want to revisit this issue: Even the minority of Californians who voted against Prop. 8 have accepted that the majority rules and moved on to other issues." The organization's president, Maggie Gallagher, said Prop. 8's foes "talked big, but they failed because the majority of Californians are not on their side."

Henning said that's not so, citing a recent poll showing more Californians support same-sex marriage than oppose it.


"There was no shortage of people willing to sign the petition; there was a shortage of people available to circulate the petition," he said. "We had so many opportunities to gather signatures in places where a high percentage of people would've signed, but we didn't have enough volunteers to staff all those locations."

There hasn't been a successful, all-volunteer signature-gathering effort since the early 1980s, he added, and Prop. 8's backers paid many of their petition circulators.

Same-sex marriage advocates had debated whether to attempt a repeal this year or to wait for 2012; at issue was how much time would be needed to raise money and run education and outreach programs, as well as whether the effort would have better synergy with California's 2010 gubernatorial election or with the 2012 presidential election. Restore Equality 2010 was formed last August after the state's largest gay-rights group, Equality California, declined to lead such an effort this year.

A lawsuit challenging Prop. 8's constitutionality is pending before a federal judge in San Francisco; whatever ruling he issues will almost certainly be appealed.

Read the Political Blotter at