State senators in New Mexico are likely to vote on a bill that would create gay and straight domestic partnerships in the state next week, reports the New Mexico Independent.

The Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act, introduced as Senate Bill 12 by Senator Cisco McSorley, has been crafted to give committed gay and lesbian couples marriage-like benefits.

New Mexico falls in the small category of states that have not acted for or against gay marriage. The state has come close to passing a domestic partner law in the past and the state's governor, Bill Richardson, has promised to sign it. The state has outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity since 2003.

The paper is reporting that the vote might come up as early as Monday.

Supporters say they remain optimistic about passage, but concede the vote will be close. A similar bill was defeated in 2007 by a single vote. Since then, however, the Senate's composition has changed.

“Many incumbents were defeated [on November 4], and some of those were supporters of domestic partnerships, but we have also picked up a couple of votes from incumbents who didn't support us last time,” Diane Wood, director of the northern regional office of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the paper.

“I think we're gonna pass it, and it's gonna be by one or two votes,” she said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the legislation without recommending approval by a 6-5 vote this week.

The bill had reached a stalemate on tie votes; its chances of surviving out of committee were dimming when Democratic Albuquerque Senator Bernadette Sanchez, who had been absent during an earlier vote this month, broke the deadlock Monday by voting in favor of sending the measure to the full Senate.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has pledged his support for the measure.