After the dramatic February defeat of a proposed domestic partnership bill, a New Mexico senator is sponsoring a bill that would ban gay marriage in the state, the New Mexico Independent reported.

Senator William Sharer, a Republican from Farmington, has pre-filed legislation that would define marriage as a heterosexual union in the New Mexico Constitution.

The bill proposes adding the following text to the constitution: “Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.” Voter approval is needed to alter the state's constitution.

Similar attempts in the last two sessions of the Legislature have died in committee.

In previous legislative sessions, the New Mexico House has approved bills recognizing gay and lesbian unions as domestic partnerships, but the more conservative Senate rejected the measures. In this year's session, the bill failed by eight votes.

Governor Bill Richardson has already announced he will support a domestic partnership bill in January.

While a gay marriage ban would not explicitly prohibit recognition of gay unions as domestic partnerships, it would have a chilling effect on the movement.

In 2008, voters in three states – California, Florida and Arizona – approved constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.