A Pennsylvania lawmaker says he's preparing to introduce a bill in the House that would recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions.

Representative Mark Cohen, a Democrat, says he expects to debut his bill by April 14, gay weekly Philadelphia Gay News reported.

Cohen says his bill has so far attracted 24 cosponsors.

“Civil unions are more attainable in a reasonable period of time than gay marriage is,” Cohen told the paper. “Civil unions don't give gays the status of marriage, they're not as good as marriage, but I think right now it's a much more attainable goal.”

The effort comes just weeks after a key Senate committee killed a resolution that sought to define marriage as a heterosexual union in the state constitution. The 8-to-6 vote against the measure included three Republicans.

But a bill that would legalize gay marriage in the Keystone State stalled out after attracting only two cosponsors. Its sponsor, Senator Daylin Leach, a Democrat, said civil unions offer gay couples a “second-class marriage.”

“It is increasingly clear that the votes do not exist in the foreseeable future to either constitutionally ban gay marriage in Pennsylvania, or to permit gay marriage in Pennsylvania,” Cohen said in a memo seeking cosponsors. “Civil unions represent the middle of the road compromise position between constitutionally banning and permitting gay marriages.”

Several states have used an incremental approach to gay rights. For example, Washington State lawmakers have twice expanded a 2007 domestic partnership law that gives gay and lesbian couples all the rights and obligations of marriage.