A Democratic state lawmaker has defended her claim that there was a “special place in hell” for Republicans who supported an amendment banning official recognition of same-sex unions despite personally supporting such recognition.

Jennifer Weiss, who sits in the North Carolina state House of Representatives, said her comments were “inflammatory”, but that she had been “pretty fired up”.

A panel interview at the weekend held at the North Carolina University had been discussing a constitutional amendment designed to forbid recognition of gay marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships.

It will be voted on in May 2012 by the public after passing through both houses.

Weiss said the legislature, which had been controlled by Democrats for a century until last year, had managed to keep the “monster” amendment from making progress.

The state currently does not recognise or allow gay marriages or civil unions.

Under Republican control, the House was considering adding a constitutional amendment to enshrine that status. 29 other states have such amendments.

Weiss took particular issue with the Republican state lawmakers who personally did not support such an amendment but then successfully voted in favour of including it on a ballot.

She said: “The bottom line is […] there’s a special place in hell for [these] people.

“It’s bad enough to believe in something and pursue something because you think you’re on the side of good or though you might be misguided but you are following your conscience, but when you think something is wrong and you vote for it out of political expediency, that’s even worse in my book and we saw that here.”

Weiss stated this week that she had made the “special place in hell” comment while referring to Dante’s Inferno, part of the Divine Comedy epic poem in which different levels in hell exist for particular sins.

A Public Policy Polling survey in September found 31% of voters in the state were in favour of same-sex marriage, and 54% in favour of some legal recognition for gay couples.