With Republicans taking the majority in the North Carolina General Assembly next year, social conservatives expect the legislature will finally permit a vote on a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
Democratic leaders have blocked votes on the issue for years, arguing state law already prevents same-sex marriage. But with the GOP solidly in the majority in the Assembly starting this January for the first time in more than a century, chances for a vote in the House and Senate are fairly strong.
Gay rights advocates plan to fight hard against bringing the question to the floors of the House and Senate, where three-fifths majorities are needed to approve an amendment to bring it to voters in a statewide referendum.
Republicans will have that in the 50-seat Senate but likely fall four seats short in the 120-member House. Some Democratic lawmakers have co-sponsored marriage ban amendments in the past.
“We are definitely concerned that the new leadership is far more likely to bring up a vote,” said Ian Palmquist, executive director of Equality North Carolina. “People are definitely looking to North Carolina because we have been so successful at blocking an amendment in the past.”
Democrat Marcus Brandon, who is openly gay and elected to the House last week, will be the only openly LGBT state legislator in North Carolina. He says Republicans interested in liberty shouldn’t pass laws to restrict his liberty.
North Carolina is the only state in Southeast that hasn’t approved an amendment banning gay marriage.