Republican lawmakers in North Carolina, US, announced this week that they hope to win a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Speaking at a press conference in Raleigh on Tuesday, they said they will push for a voter referendum on the issue in 2012.

If passed, this will prevent courts from overturning current laws which do not permit gay couples to wed.

Republicans in the state, who now control both chambers of the legislature, believe there is plenty of support for the move.

They hope to introduce legislation when the general assembly reconvenes in two weeks.

In February, a survey by Elon University revealed that more than half of North Carolina residents actually support at least some form of legal recognition for gay couples. Over a quarter support full marriage equality.

The survey found that opposition to all forms of legal recognition of gay couples has dropped to 35 per cent, down from 44 per cent two years ago.