RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A new version of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in North Carolina tries to quell criticism the change could prevent private companies from offering same-sex benefits.

Members of a Senate committee have received draft legislation scheduled to be heard Monday, when lawmakers reconvene to consider proposed amendments to the state constitution.

The Republican-penned measure would recognize marriage between one man and one woman as the state's only valid domestic legal union. It also says the amendment wouldn't keep private parties from entering contracts -- a likely reference to same-sex benefits.

Gay rights activists are angry because they say legislators gave no formal notice the bill will be heard.

Democratic Sen. Josh Stein said Saturday that Republicans continue to focus on divisive issues and not the economy.

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