The leading group fighting against a proposed North Carolina constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage has rejected a poll as biased.

Lawmakers will return to Raleigh on September 12 to begin a special session on constitutional amendments which will consider whether to send three issues, including the marriage amendment, to the ballot box in 2012.

Equality North Carolina says a December, 2010 poll from the conservative Civitas Institute in Raleigh inflates support for the amendment by avoiding use of the term “ban same-sex marriage.”

Sixty-five percent of respondents said they strongly or somewhat favor “an amendment to the North Carolina constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.” Proponents have used the Civitas survey in promoting the amendment.

Equality North Carolina points to a February, 2011 Elon University poll which found a majority (56%) of North Carolinians opposed to a constitutional amendment.

While support for legalizing gay marriage has increased 7 percent in the state since 2009, the Elon poll found 28 percent of respondents in favor of full marriage rights, and 29 percent in favor of civil unions or domestic partnerships.

That is, a question that attempts to ban all forms of legal recognition – one of the options on the table – and clearly articulates its objective to the voter would likely fail, according to the Elon survey.

“It is despicable that anti-gay forces would attempt to mislead lawmakers and divide North Carolinians with these false assertions and half-truths,” said Alex Miller, interim executive director of Equality North Carolina. “The type of environment created by this amendment, of 'hate at all costs,' is just a taste of what's to come if lawmakers succeed in perpetuating a divisive 14-month ballot campaign that will only hurt families, business, and the perception of our state as a welcoming place for all.”