New Mexico would be one of the next US states to pass marriage equality as a law proposing it has just passed the first hurdle.
The bill will allow voters to decide the issue of gay marriage, but also states churches would not be required to recognize and perform same-sex ceremonies.
After hearing diverse opinions, lawmakers voted 3-2 to pass the bill, ABC reports. The Republicans voted against the measure.
Democrat Representative Brian Egolf said: ‘We should not discriminate.
‘The state should be doing everything possible to encourage people to enter into committed, long-term relationships, especially when there’s children involved.
Same-sex marriage opponent and Republican Jose Vasquez responded by saying: ‘What happens to those kids? Those kids were not created in that relationship.’
Egolf says thousands of people have contacted him to thank him for backing marriage equality in the southwest US state. On Twitter, he said there was a long road ahead but it was a great first step.
The proposal must clear two other committees to reach the 70-member House for a vote, and will then also need Senate approval.
Marriage equality will face difficulty due to the House and Senate having turned down proposals for domestic partnerships in the past.
In 2004, former Attorney General Patricia Madrid issued an advisory letter saying state law limits marriage to a man and a woman and county clerks should not issue licenses to same-sex couples.
If the bill passes, marriage equality will come up for a vote in November 2014.