The Nevada Assembly on Thursday approved a constitutional amendment which seeks to legalize gay marriage in the state.

The chamber approved the measure with a bipartisan vote of 27 to 14.

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.

“Lawmakers in Nevada took a huge step toward undoing a discriminatory amendment that never should have been written into the state constitution and advancing the freedom to marry,” Marc Solomon, campaign director of Freedom to Marry, said in a statement. “We look forward to the day that Nevada couples join those in the 12 other marriage states in being able to make a lifelong commitment to the person they love.”

The amendment must return to the Legislature for a second round of votes after the next election, 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.