North Carolina took a big step toward a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage last night, when the House passed a bill that would let voters decide the matter during next May’s GOP primary. The vote was 75-42 in favor, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. Afterward, hundreds of gay marriage opponents rallied in support of the bill, which must still pass the Senate, chanting, “Let the people vote!”
Holding the vote in May, as opposed to during the November general election, was a concession to Democrats who support the ban, but don’t want it drawing more social conservatives to the poll to vote against President Obama. But the date also essentially guarantees the referendum’s passage, since it’ll be mostly Republican primary voters at the polls. The vote comes in spite of a major lobbying effort by Equality NC, and a letter from 76 North Carolina CEOs opposing the referendum.