North Carolina state Senator Jim Forrester announced his effort to ban gay marriage by saying, “Moms and dads are not interchangeable.”

Forrester introduced Senate Bill 272 on Tuesday. The bill aims to amend North Carolina's state constitution to limit marriage to heterosexual unions and ban any recognition of gay and lesbian couples.

The bill, and a similar measure set to be introduced in the House today, face an uphill battle in the Democratic-led Legislature.

Democratic Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight assigned the bill to Ways and Means, a committee that has not met since 2001. The eleven member panel is composed of eight Democrats and three Republicans and is chaired by Senator Charlie Smith Dannelly, a Democrat from Raleigh.

Two Democratic members of the committee, Ed Jones of Bertie and David W. Hoyle of Gaston, have co-sponsored the bill. Supporters need to find two more Democrats on the committee to have the bill reach the floor for a full vote.

North Carolina law currently defines marriage as between a man and a woman and does not recognize legal gay marriages performed elsewhere. But supporters of the ban worry those laws could be deemed unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court.

“It only takes one liberal judge to overturn our statutes and usher in same-sex marriage without a vote of the legislature and without a vote of the people of our state,” Forrester said on Tuesday.

Catholic and protestant ministers appeared alongside lawmakers in announcing the bill.

“Throughout the entirety of Sacred Scripture, marriage is always and only recognized as a union between a man and a woman,” said Bishops Michael F. Burbidge and Peter F. Jugis of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte in a statement. “As a source of divine revelation, we believe that Sacred Scripture has made it clear that the traditional understanding of marriage over several millennia is the only one that should constitutionally exist in our state.”

Equality North Carolina, a group that opposes the bill, said it is planning a March 24 day of action at the North Carolina Museum of History in downtown Raleigh. A spokeswoman from the organization said the event will consist of an educational component at the museum combined with direct access to lawmakers at the Legislature, across the street.

On the Net: North Carolina Equality is at