Lawmakers in Nebraska will conduct a hearing later this year that could lead to a ballot measure on gay marriage.

The Judiciary Committee will conduct a public hearing in October on Nebraska's 2000 voter-approved constitutional amendment which limits marriage to heterosexual couples.

Senator Brad Ashford, a Democrat from Omaha who chairs the committee, said that a public debate on the issue was needed in the wake of last month's Supreme Court decision which struck down a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that prohibited the federal government from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

Ashford, a marriage equality supporter, said that he also wants to explore the possibility of civil unions, the AP reported.

“Would civil unions be acceptable? I think they would be,” Ashford said. “Would gay marriage be acceptable? I don't think so.”

According to an October, 2013 World-Herald poll of registered voters, a greater number of Nebraskans support marriage (32%) over civil unions (22%) for gay couples. The 2000 marriage amendment was approved with overwhelmingly (70%) support.

Court cases challenging similar bans in other states filed in the wake of the DOMA ruling draw heavily on the court's decision. Similarly, supporters in Nebraska have considered a legal challenge or a statewide petition to overturn the state constitutional amendment.