The Associated Press is reporting that an Illinois House legislative committee has approved a bill to grant gay and lesbian couples the right to civil unions.

House Bill 2234 was approved by the House Youth and Family Committee by a vote of 5-4 Wednesday. State Representative Greg Harris, an openly gay Democrat from Springfield, introduced the bill along with 12 Democratic co-sponsors.

The measure would not legalize gay marriage in the state. It would create a separate legal framework that offers many marriage-like benefits for gay couples, including the right to visit their partners in hospitals, make medical decisions and more. The bill would also recognize legal gay marriages and civil unions performed elsewhere as civil unions.

Opponents argue that civil unions amount to gay marriage without the name.

The bill will proceed to the House floor for a vote.