An Indiana Senate panel on Monday approved a proposed gay marriage ban as amended in the House.

After more than 3 hours of testimony, House Joint Resolution 3 (HJR-3) cleared the Senate Rules Committee with an 8-4 party line vote.

The failure to return HJR-3's original language in committee is a small victory for marriage equality supporters.

The bill approved by the House stripped out language which also banned civil unions and other similar arrangements. Because a constitutional amendment must be approved by two separately elected General Assemblies before it can advance to the ballot box, HJR-3's altered language effectively blocks it from reaching November's ballot.

HJR-3 supporters called on the committee to return the measure's original language.

Opposition to the amendment was led by executive from Eli Lilly, Cummings, Indiana University and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.

“Lilly has taken a stance against HJR-3 because … the bill would negatively impact our ability to attract talent,” Stephen F. Fry, senior vice-president of Human Resources and Diversity at Eli Lilly, said in his testimony to the committee.

Mayra Rose, chief administrative officer at Cummings, testified that the ban would be “bad for business” and do “irreparable harm to our state's reputation.”

The full Senate is expected to debate the measure on Thursday.

If HJR-3 is approved in the Senate as amended, the earliest it could reach voters is 2016.