The Nevada Senate on Monday approved a proposed constitutional amendment which seeks to legalize gay marriage in the state.

Senators voted 12-9 in favor of the measure after roughly 90 minutes of debate. One Republican, Senator Ben Kieckhefer, crossed the aisle to join all Democrats in voting for the bill.

Senator Tick Segerblom's joint resolution (SJR 13) originally sought only to remove from the Nevada constitution the state's definition of marriage approved by voters in 2002 which states, “Only a marriage between a male and female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state.” But a last-minute amendment adopted earlier this month at the committee phase added that the state “shall recognize marriages and issue marriage licenses, regardless of gender.”

“We felt it would be cleaner to both eliminate the current prohibition and make it clear Nevada does not discriminate in any way,” Segerblom said.

Several senators opposed to the bill said they could have supported the original resolution that simply repealed the language approved by voters in 2002.

“When the sponsor of the bill from Senate district 3 [Segerblom] came to me with this issue to begin with, I told him that I was actually in favor of taking it out of the constitution, because I firmly believe that the discussion of marriage does not belong in our constitution,” Senator James Settelmeyer, a Republican from Minden, told colleagues. “I do not approve of the concept of having the discussion of marriage within our constitution. To me it's not the proper place, it should just be in statute.”

Senator David Parks, a Democrat from Las Vegas and the chamber's first openly gay member, pointed out to colleagues that not all religions are apposed to gay nuptials.

“Nearly all of the arguments against gay marriage are based on religious beliefs, but many religious leaders are in support of marriage equality,” Parks said.

Senator Justin Jones, a Democrat from Las Vegas, said he was voting for the measure to support his gay brother-in-law.

(Related: Nevada Senator Kelvin Atkinson comes out gay during gay marriage debate.)

The resolution needs the approval of two separately elected Legislatures, making 2016 the earliest it could reach the voters.

Nevada currently recognizes gay and lesbian couples with domestic partnerships. As of April 1, 4,157 couples have entered the union, though some are of the opposite sex.