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Gay marriage could be banned in N.C. with new Republican majority in General Assembly, senators say

An amendment to the state constitution to ban gay marriage might have more favorable chances of being passed next year.

Many Republicans, including N.C. Sen. Blake Harris, R-Harnett, believe a bill to ban gay marriage will be passed if it’s brought before the Senate because Republicans now have a majority in the N.C. General Assembly.

Many North Carolinians are already fighting against the potential ban.

Equality North Carolina, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, is using e-mails, phone calls and an annual conference to encourage supporters in the state to talk with legislators about the bill’s potential negative impact.

“The community is really concerned about what the new political environment means for all the issues we’re working on,” said Ian Palmquist, executive director of Equality North Carolina.

North Carolina is one of the only states in the Southeast that does not already have a ban on gay marriage.

“North Carolinians really want all people to be treated fairly and equally and don’t really like the idea of putting discrimination in our state constitution,” he said.

Palmquist said the group is working to remind recently elected legislators to stick to their campaign promises to restore jobs and the economy instead of proposing legislation against gay marriage.

“There is a very good chance we will see right-wing legislators bring this bill up, and we’re going to have to work really hard to try and stop it,” Palmquist said.

N.C. Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, said she is concerned some Democratic legislators might also vote in favor of the bill because their constituents believe in it.

The bill has been introduced many times but hasn’t gotten far because Democrats had held the majority in the N.C. General Assembly for almost 112 years.

This time, however, Kinnaird said she is worried the bill will pass.

“This is going absolutely in the wrong direction,” she said. “I just don’t think we should write hate and reduction of rights into our constitution.”

But N.C. Sen. Don East, R-Alleghany, said even if the legislature proposes a gay marriage bill, the economy will be at the forefront.

“Absolutely that will be the number one, two and three priority,” he said.

But bills attempting to ban gay marriage will have a much better chance to be passed today than they did before, East said.

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