An amendment that would constitutionally prohibit gay marriage in North Carolina was introduced in the House on Wednesday, Charlotte-based gay weekly Q-Notes reported.

A similar measure was introduced in the North Carolina Senate in February.

The Senate version explicitly bans other unions in addition to marriage, which might include civil unions and domestic partnerships, but the House's version only covers marriage.

Opponents worry that the Senate's language could outlaw domestic partner benefits currently offered by private sector employers.

“I think it is a step in the right direction that they didn't introduce as extreme a version as the Senate did,” Equality North Carolina Director Ian Palmquist told the paper. “The fact remains it is still an attempt to write discrimination into our state constitution.”

If approved this year, the question could appear on the 2012 ballot.

Seven Democrats, 31 Republicans and 1 independent had signed on as co-sponsors as of early Friday afternoon. Republicans gained control of both chambers on November 2. In the House, however, the GOP remains 5 votes shy of the three-fourths majority needed to approve a constitutional amendment.