The prospects for approval of a bill that would recognize gay couples with domestic partnerships in New Mexico have dimmed considerably after lawmakers decided to route the bill to a third committee, the New Mexico Independent reported.

Members of the Senate Public Affairs Committee agreed to send the 816-page bill to the Senate Finance Committee. The bill also needs the approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee before reaching the Senate floor.

Proponents say the move has likely doomed the bill.

“Three committee assignments would kill this bill,” State Senator Eric Griego, a Democrat from Albuquerque and gay marriage proponent, said before voting.

The detour is likely to slow down the bill, which already faces the daunting task of being approved by both chambers of the Legislature in the next 15 legislative days.

Much like Washington State, the bill seeks to grant nearly every right and obligation of marriage to gay and lesbian couples. Lawmakers in Washington State, however, gradually expanded on a minimal domestic partnership law approved in 2007.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat, supports the legislation, while the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops has expressed strong opposition.

Last year, ten Democratic senators crossed the aisle to join all fifteen Republicans in defeating a similar measure. Bills that would recognize gay unions have been defeated three straight years in a row.

New Mexico falls in the small category of states that have not acted for or against gay marriage. The state has outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity since 2003.