North Carolina’s House of Representatives have approved a measure for a voter referendum on a gay marriage ban.
Although the US state does not currently recognise gay marriage, Republicans are seeking a constitutional ban on the practice, which would prevent courts from ruling for marriage equality.
The bill passed 75-42 – with ten Democrats voting in favour – and will now go to the Senate for approval, where it is expected to pass.
Lawmakers originally sought a November 2012 vote on the issue, but this will now take place next May, if the measure is approved.
Thirty US states already have constitutional bans on gay marriage. In every state where the issue has been put to voters, they have approved a ban.
However, recent polls suggest that North Carolina voters, although opposed to gay marriage, appear reluctant to back a constitutional ban.
A Public Policy Polling survey found that while 61 per cent of 580 people oppose gay marriage, just 30 per cent said they would vote for a ban.
Fifty-five per cent said they would vote against a ban and 15 per cent were unsure.