A Rhode Island House committee on Tuesday will consider a bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples to enter into a legal partnership that provides many of the benefits of marriage.

The proposal, sponsored by Democrat Peter Petrarca, would allow two people unable to legally marry in the state to enter into a legal partnership that would extend benefits associated with insurance, health care decisions, inheritance and property ownership. The definition would include unmarried siblings.

The measure will be considered in the House Judiciary Committee, the same panel that previously heard testimony on a gay marriage bill. A Senate committee has also held a hearing on the gay marriage bill. But neither the House nor Senate committee has scheduled a vote on the measure.

Last week, Governor Lincoln Chafee appeared at a news conference along with visiting Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin to urge the Rhode Island General Assembly to approve the gay marriage bill.

Opponents of the legislation say they're reasonably confident the Democrat-controlled Senate won't approve gay marriage.