The North Carolina House on Monday approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in the state.

Lawmakers returned to Raleigh this week to consider whether to send the proposed amendment to voters next year.

The House Rules Committee sent a newly introduced version of the measure to the full House after approving it with a voice vote. If approved, voters would see the question on the ballot during the May primary election, not during the general election in November as previously assumed.

The debate in the House began shortly after 3PM and lasted nearly 3 hours. While most of the members who rose to debate the issue urged their colleagues to vote against the amendment, it easily cleared the chamber with a 75 to 42 vote.

Rep. Henry M. Michaux, Jr., a Democrat and an African-American, said he opposed the measure because constitutions are permanent documents.

“The constitution is a living document,” Michaux said. “If you think it's hard to get something out of a living document, you take a look at the United States Constitution, where it says that I'm three-fifths of a person – even though we've had amendments come along to sort of change that, it still says it in that constitution. What you put into a constitution is there permanently.”

Openly gay freshman Rep. Marcus Brandon apologized to the gay community for the actions of the general assembly, saying that “God wouldn't want any child to feel like she's less than someone else … that is not God.”

The Senate is expected to debate the measure as early as Tuesday.