Virginia senators gave final approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in the state on Wednesday.
The 28-11 Senate vote, combined with the House's earlier passage, clears the way for the proposed ban to be placed before voters in November. If approved, Virginia will join 19 other states with constitutional amendments protecting traditional marriage.
The senate vote came one day after lawmakers gave preliminary approval to the ban on Tuesday. Virginia law already defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, but pro-family groups and conservatives say a constitutional ban is needed for protection from being forced to recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions performed elsewhere.
Opponents meanwhile criticized the ban, saying the amendment is so broadly worded that it can undermine contracts affecting all unmarried people including heterosexuals.
However, supporters said there is a need for the ban in order to protect Virginia law from being overridden by federal courts.
"There have been some judges and some progressive individuals who have tried to redefine marriage," Sen. Stephen Newman (R-Lynchburg) told AP. "Unless we act, we can expect that more court decisions and more litigation will follow in defiance of our local Virginia laws."