Don't expect a state referendum on gay marriage anytime soon.
Ian Palmquist, executive director of the gay rights group Equality N.C., said that he is cautiously optimistic that the leadership of the state House and Senate will remain the same in the coming year, preventing a referendum from being put on the ballot.
After California voters added a gay marriage ban to their state constitution in a recent election, gays and lesbians nationally have mobilized to protest similar measures, holding rallies in North Carolina this weekend.
State Republicans have long called for a referendum here, although a state law from 1871 defines marriage as between "a male and female person" and a second law from 1996 specifically invalidates same-sex unions.
The state House and Senate would have to approve putting a referendum on the ballot by three-fifths margins. (The governor usually has no say.) Saying a referendum is unnecessary, Democratic leaders in the state House and Senate have blocked it from coming to a vote.
Palmquist said he's happy that North Carolina has avoided a referendum.
"You're essentially putting the rights of a minority up to a popular vote without any other checks and balances on it," he said. "That's not what constitutions are for."