A bill which would legalize gay marriage in Uruguay cleared its first hurdle on Wednesday.

The House Committee on the Constitution approved the measure, paving the way for a December 11 vote in the Chamber of Deputies, Spanish news agency EFE reported. The Senate is expected to debate the measure next year, after its summer recess.

“The institution of marriage will mean the union of two parties, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, on the same terms, with the same effects and means of dissolution as presented in the Civil Code,” states the first article of the measure presented by the ruling Frente Amplio (FA) Party.

Last year, a court in Uruguay for the first time recognized the legal marriage of a gay couple. Judge Eduardo Martinez recognized on appeal the legality of a marriage entered into in Spain, where Socialists legalized marriage equality in 2005. The binational couple lives in both Uruguay and Spain.

Currently, Uruguay recognizes gay and lesbian couples with civil unions. After a couple has lived in a “stable relationship” for 5 years they may petition the government for recognition.

If approved, Uruguay would become only the second South American country after Argentina to legalize marriage equality.

(Related: As Colombia debates marriage equality, Senator calls gay sex “repulsive.”)