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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Opponents of the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in North Carolina are hoping Gov. Beverly Perdue's surprise decision not to seek a second term will provide an unexpected lift to their campaign.

Perdue's departure from the race means a potential free-for-all in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Opponents of the proposed amendment hope that means a surge of Democratic voters on May 8 likely to vote `no' on the referendum question.

Michael Bitzer, a professor of politics at Catawba College, says the contested primary is a golden opportunity for those who want North Carolina to remain the only state in the southeast without a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

But the Rev. Ron Baity, a leader in the pro-amendment campaign, says the measure has enough bipartisan support to prevail.

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