A New Mexico House Committee on Thursday approved a resolution which would let the voters decide whether gay marriage should be legal in the state.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Brian Egolf, a Democrat from Santa Fe, cleared the Consumer and Public Affairs Committee on a 3-2 vote. The proposal must clear two additional panels before reaching the full House.

House Joint Resolution 3 states: “The issuance of a marriage license shall not be denied on the basis that the sex of both applicants is the same. No church or religious institution shall be required to perform a marriage ceremony or recognize a marriage for religious purposes that conflicts with the church's or religious institution's beliefs.”

The measure faces a steep climb in the Democrat-controlled Legislature. Previous legislative efforts have focused on recognizing gay and lesbian couples with domestic partnerships.

Republican Governor Susana Martinez has called such legislation “unnecessary and ill-advised.”

“[M]ost of the rights can be attained through contracts and by power of attorney,” she said.

New Mexico voters have yet to weigh in on the issue of marriage equality. According to a 2011 Public Policy Polling survey, a plurality of voters (45%) in the state say gay nuptials should be legal, and a majority (67%) back either marriage or civil unions for gay couples.