RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Nerves in the gay community were already rattled after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on abortion.

“What if we’re next?” many asked.

Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion of Roe v. Wade confirmed their fears.

“He essentially said look, we should return abortion to the states, we might also want to look at some other opinions like those about gay marriage,” explained Chris Cooper, political science professor at Western Carolina University.

House democrats moved to get ahead of it by introducing the Respect for Marriage Act, which passed on Tuesday in a 267-157 vote.

All democratic representatives from North Carolina voted in favor of protecting gay marriage. While 47 republicans in other states also said yes, every NC republican representative voted against it. Cooper said there are several things at play.

“There’s some politics here and there’s some public policy here,” he said.

The votes pertain to an issue that is less divisive in public these days than it is in politics.

FILE – With the U.S. Capitol in the background, a person waves a rainbow flag as they participate in a rally in support of the LGBTQIA+ community at Freedom Plaza, on Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Washington. The U.S. House overwhelmingly approved legislation Tuesday, July, 19, 2022, to protect same-sex and interracial marriages amid concerns that the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade abortion access could jeopardize other rights criticized by many conservative Americans. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

“There’s only three states in the country where the majority of the people are not for gay marriage. Most people are for gay marriage in North Carolina and in the vast—the vast, vast, vast majority in this country,” said Cooper.

But all of that may not matter. Except for congressman Ted Budd, who is in a tight race for U.S. Senate, incumbent republicans live in solid red districts.

“They campaigned saying what they believe, they voted for that, now the voters get to decide whether they want to punish—or not—these members of congress,” Cooper said.

On the senate side, there is growing democratic hope that ten republican yes votes may be possible. That many would be needed to get the law passed.

So, could North Carolina republican senators Thom Tillis or Richard Burr be possible yays?

Maybe… maybe not.

While both tend to overwhelmingly vote with their party, Burr did vote to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (allowing gays to openly serve in the military), voted to convict Donald Trump for his role on January 6th, and most recently both Burr and Tillis went against their party voting favor of gun legislation.