North Carolina's General Assembly has scheduled a legislative session beginning Monday to consider an amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as solely between one man and one woman.

"This is about far more than gay marriage or LGBT people in our state," said Anthony J. Pugliese, a member of the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce. "Every version of this amendment requires a divisive 14-month public campaign. Any version of this amendment would harm business recruitment, stifle economic development and jeopardize the kind of workforce diversity NC companies need to succeed."

"As we work tirelessly to recover from this recession we need to grow our economy and our tax base with as few impediments as possible, but this amendment would have a chilling effect on those efforts and take our state in the wrong direction," he added. "I urge any lawmaker who considers themselves 'pro-business' to oppose this amendment and work diligently toward its defeat."

State law already restricts marriage to opposite sex couples, but a constitutional amendment would protect the law from legal challenges.

If three-fifths of the Republican-controlled legislature approved it, North Carolina voters would ultimately decide the amendment's fate in a statewide referendum in 2012.

North Carolina House Majority Leader Paul Stam said that same sex marriage needed to be banned to protect children.

"We see in countries around the world where they legitimize same-sex marriage that marriage itself is depreciated," he said during a press conference. "I think you'll find that the impetus for same-sex marriage is not for same-sex people to get married – very, very few of them do – rather it is to delegitimize marriage as an institution, as a whole."

"That will affect your children and grandchildren, because all social science research demonstrates that's the best way for children to be raised. So you have to look to the future to see the true advantages of this."

Stam added that any argument used to support same sex marriage could be used to support the practice of polygamy and incest.