Updated, September 13, 1:30PM : The state Senate has passed the measure by a vote of 30-16, meaning that it will be taken up by voters in the May primary.
The North Carolina House has passed a measure that would bring a ballot initiative in 2012 to ban gay marriage in the state’s constitution.On Monday the House passed the measure 75-42, with 10 Democrats joining 65 Republicans in the majority, WBTV reports. The measure needed 72 votes to pass.
It will now head to the state Senate Tuesday, where it would need three-fifths of the vote in order to get on the ballot. The Senate is also controlled by Republicans.
North Carolina already has a law banning gay marriage, though it’s the only state in the southeast without a ban written into the constitution.
On Monday, groups from both sides of the debate rallied outside of the statehouse, in what is likely the beginning a contentious debate that will draw national attention — and money. Groups like the social conservative Family Research Council are already gearing up for a potential campaign in the state next year.
North Carolina narrowly went for President Obama in 2008, and early polls of the 2012 suggest a tight race this time around.