A Wyoming House committee on Monday voted to advance a domestic partnerships bill after it killed a gay marriage bill.

The 9-member Republican-controlled House Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee voted 5-4 against Rep. Cathy Connolly's marriage bill. But later, with a 7-2 vote, the committee approved a measure seeking to recognize the relationships of gay and lesbian couples with domestic partnerships, a bill also sponsored by Connolly, a Democrat from Albany County. Connolly first introduced such a bill in 2007.

Jeran Artery, chair of Wyoming Equality, the state's largest gay rights advocate, called the vote “historic.”

“Today marks the first time a bill has moved forward in the Wyoming legislature which would provide essential protections for LGBT families,” he said in a statement.

In his testimony to the committee, Artery explained that the laws would protect all families across the state.

“We know that there are LGBT people living in nearly every county across the state, and many of those people are raising families,” he said. “All families deserve to live safely and securely without fear that basic decisions about their loved ones will not be honored. We know there is still a lot of work to do, but we applaud the actions of this committee and are committed to working with our lawmakers to ensure that legal protections are extended to all families throughout Wyoming.”

The bill moves to the full House as early as Tuesday.