The New Hampshire Senate has dismissed the recommendation of its Judiciary Committee and approved a bill to legalize gay marriage on a 13 to 11 vote. House members narrowly approved the bill last month.

Governor John Lynch, a Democrat, has said he opposes gay marriage but has remained quiet on whether he would veto the measure should it reach his desk. Lynch does have the option of allowing the bill to become law without his signature.

Last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3 to 2 against the gay marriage bill. Committee Chair Deborah Reynolds, a Democrat, joined the committee's two Republicans, Sheila Roberge of Bedford and Robert J. Letourneau of Derry, in voting against the bill.

Two years ago, lawmakers in the state approved civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Both the civil union and gay marriage bill were introduced by openly gay Representative Jim Splaine, a Democrat.

In moving against the bill, Reynolds said New Hampshire isn't “ready” for gay marriage, having recently passed civil unions legislation.

Reynolds changed her mind and voted in favor of the bill after a compromise amendment that draws a distinction between civil and religious marriage was added on the Senate floor.

One Democrat, Senator Lou D'Allesandro from Manchester, joined Republicans in voting against the measure.

If passed, New Hampshire would become the fifth state to legalize gay marriage. Gay marriage is legal in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa.