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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — The vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would add a ban on gay marriage to North Carolina’s constitution is more than five months away, but efforts for or against it are slowly gearing up behind the scenes.

Pro- and anti-amendment forces are assembling referendum campaigns that will raise money and build support for their causes heading into the May 8 vote.

The newly formed Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families already has hired a few workers, some paid for by the nationally-based Human Rights Campaign. The coalition is opposed to the constitutional change, saying it sends a terrible message that gays and lesbians are second-class citizens.

A campaign to pass the amendment is still being organized but could be unveiled in the next week or so.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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