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CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) — The newly-elected president of North Carolina’s largest religious denomination says he’s hoping for a civil debate over a proposal to ban same-sex marriage in the state constitution.

The Rev. Mark Harris, president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, tells The Charlotte Observer he understands the question is an emotional one.

But Harris says he thinks both sides can respectfully argue their cases.

Harris was elected to a one-year term last month. The convention represents roughly 4,300 churches and some 1.3 million members in North Carolina.

Voters will decide in May whether the state constitution should be amended to ban same-sex marriage.

Not all Christian leaders are in favor of the idea.

About 250 clergy members from multiple denominations have signed a statement denouncing the proposal.

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

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