Two state senators have introduced a bill that would define marriage as a heterosexual union in the West Virginia Constitution, effectively banning gay marriage, the Parkersburg-based News and Sentinel reported.

Republican Senators Donna Boley and David Nohe have co-sponsored the legislation in the Senate.

The measure's language would also prohibit the state from recognizing gay and lesbian couples with civil unions and ban municipalities from offering benefits similar to marriage.

If approved, voters would be asked to vote on the issue in 2012.

“The people of West Virginia have always been conservative,” Boley said. “It is just the way it is here. So far, I have not receive any opposition to it.”

“The aim of this amendment is to say that marriage truly is a union between a man and a woman and that is not open for challenge in West Virginia,” Nohe, a freshman senator and Mayor of Vienna, told the paper. “This is an issue near and dear to the hearts of many West Virginians.”

“The people should be allowed to vote on it,” he added.

Previous attempts to approve similar measures have died in committee. Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature.