The state legislature in the US state of Wyoming has rejected a bill that would have cleared the way for a statewide ballot to ban recognition of any out of state gay marriage.

Republicans, who were behind the measure, portrayed it as protecting “traditional” marriage.

On Friday the state House of Representatives voted it down 35 to 25 after an emotional debate on the issue of same-sex couples. A similar move stalled in the state Senate last month.

Wyoming law already prohibits marriage by gay and lesbian couples.

The resolution, which sought to place the proposed amendment before voters, would have written this prohibition into the state constitution and also threatened to prohibit other forms of relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples.

“We are grateful that the Wyoming House of Representatives stood up for equality and refused to write discrimination into the state constitution,” said Joe Solmonese of leading LGBT equality group Human Rights Campaign.

“I am thrilled and proud that my colleagues took a stand against writing discrimination into Wyoming’s constitution,” said state Representative Cathy Connolly.

Rep. Connolly and 34 other representatives voted against the proposed amendment.

Several representatives made strong statements in opposition to the resolution. Rep. Pat Childers spoke of his daughter, who is a lesbian.

“Folks, till my dying breath there isn’t anybody in this country who could say that she is a terrible person, or someone that needs to have their rights restricted,” Rep. Childers said.

Last Friday’s vote indefinitely tables the resolution. The session ends in March.

At present gay and lesbian couples can get married in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Civil unions that carry all the state rights of marriage are legal in New Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Gay marriage was legal in America’s most populous state, California, between June and November last year, until a statewide ballot measure banning same-sex marriage was passed by voters.

The measure, Proposition 8, is being challenged in the courts.

Federal marriage rights were denied to same-sex couples by the 1996 Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA).

States are not required to “treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state.”