Twenty-three Republican senators on Tuesday backed a measure that would constitutionally prohibit gay marriage in North Carolina, Charlotte-based gay weekly Q-Notes reported.

The proposed measure would amend the North Carolina Constitution to ban recognition of any “domestic legal union” other than a heterosexual marriage.

The question could appear on the 2012 ballot, if approved by lawmakers.

The resolution enjoys the support of 23 GOP senators, including its primary sponsor Senator James Forrester, who has carried the proposed amendment for the past seven years.

It is the first attempt by Republicans to ban gay marriage since their successful takeover of both chambers on November 2. Previously, Democratic leaders have blocked such measures.

The new GOP majority in the Senate is large enough to approve placing the question on the ballot, but Republicans will likely need the help of four Democratic members in the House.

“We are definitely concerned that the new leadership is far more likely to bring up a vote,” Ian Palmquist, executive director of Equality North Carolina, the state's largest gay rights advocate, said in November.

A House version of the resolution has yet to be filed.