A proposed constitutional amendment which seeks to legalize gay marriage in Nevada cleared an Assembly committee on Thursday.

Passage came a week after the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections heard testimony on Senate Joint Resolution 13. The 10-member panel's three Republican members, Wesley Duncan, Pat Hickley and James Oscarson, voted against the measure.

Senator Tick Segerblom's joint resolution 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 in the Senate committee phase added that the state “shall recognize marriages and issue marriage licenses, regardless of gender.”

The Senate approved the resolution last month. During debate on the Senate floor, Senator Kelvin Atkinson, a Democrat from Las Vegas, came out gay.

The measure now heads to the full Assembly, where its prospects look bright.

However, constitutional amendments need the approval of two separately elected Legislatures, making 2016 the earliest it could reach 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 opposite-sex.