A dramatic shift to scrap a push to legalize gay marriage and replace it with civil unions in Rhode Island could begin as early as Thursday, the Providence Journal reported.

Citing insufficient support, House Speaker Gordon Fox on Wednesday declared a gay marriage bill stuck in committee in the Legislature dead. Fox, an openly gay Democrat, announced he'll alter course and back a civil unions bill instead.

The move comes after the Maryland House abandoned a similar bill after passage in the Senate.

State Representative Peter Petrarca announced he could introduce the legislation as early as Thursday.

Petrarca said his civil unions bill would be modeled after similar laws recently approved in Illinois, Delaware and Hawaii.

“If you look at civil union bills anywhere in the country, you'll have a really good sense of what we're going to be blending together,” he said.

Petrarca, a supporter of giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, called a civil unions bill a “giant step.”

An effort to legalize gay marriage in New York remains in play.