Lawmakers have voted against amendments that would have banned gay marriage and prohibited adoption by gay men and lesbians in El Salvador.

The San Salvador-based daily La Prensa Grafica reported last week that neither constitutional amendment was approved.

The amendments were introduced in 2006, and the previous legislature approved the measures in April 2009. But constitutional amendments require the approval of two consecutive legislatures.

The measures died after falling short of the two-thirds majority required for passage. The amendments failed with 46 lawmakers voting in favor and 38 opposed.

Catholic leaders of Central America's smallest nation strongly back the reforms, going to far as to urge conservative lawmakers to withhold the newly-elected leftist government of Mauricio Funes their support on crucial bills.

“If one party is refusing to vote and the others are convinced (the measure) is for the common good, the good of the nation, they could oblige them by denying the government party their votes, for example loans or the national budget,” Jose Luis Escobar, the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Salvador, said during a press conference.

Hundreds of gay marriage foes carrying signs that read “Marriage is sacred, defend it” marched through the streets of San Salvador, the nation's capitol, last weekend.

Gay rights groups have asked the government to recognize gay unions with civil unions, not marriage.