North Carolina lawmakers are on the verge of a vote in September that would add a same-sex marriage ban to the state ballot, and tensions are rising as the possibility nears.
The state's Republican speaker of the House, Thom Tillis, was confronted during a town hall meeting in Cornelius on Tuesday.
"Can you explain to us why you're squandering taxpayer resources on this hateful legislation?" asked Lauren Brannon of Davidson, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Tillis claimed there is wide support in his party for sending the constitutional amendment question to voters.
"I think that it deserves a fair debate, and if it's the will of the majority of the legislature, to have that then be subject to a popular vote," he told the audience, according to WBTV.
Rep. Dale Folwell visited the Rowan County branch of the Tea Party Patriots and made the case that the legislature should put the question on the ballot because Republicans promised on the campaign trail that they would amend the constitution.
"If you step back from the subject itself, we are doing what we told the people we were going to do," Folwell said, according to the Salisbury Post. "At the end of the day, we are not changing the constitution. We are pushing power to the people that the constitution belongs to and asking them to decide whether they want to change it."
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign reports that it has staffers on the ground who are organizing opposition to the amendment. The House bill, HB 777, and the Senate bill, SB 106, will likely be considered as part of a special session that convenes September 12.
Equality North Carolina is aiming to gather 50,000 postcards from residents who are against the bills and plans to deliver the notes to legislators when they convene. The group is also touting a vote in late July by the Durham City Council on a resolution that proclaimed its opposition to the two bills.
Interim executive director Alex Miller said the city "stood in strong opposition to discriminatory legislation" that could "disenfranchise many of its city and county employees and their families as well as public and private employees in all corners of the state."