State senators told KITV they expect to approve a civil unions bill shortly after the legislative session starts this month.
The bill to give gay couples most of the benefits of marriage remains alive in the Senate after failing to move out of the Judiciary Committee last year.
Opponents are gearing up to fight legalizing gay unions at a rally at the state Capitol Jan. 17.
Gay partners said they are mounting their own campaigns to make sure the bill is approved.
Supporters of civil unions said they hope a new exhibit featuring portraits of gay families will emphasize they share the same joys and sorrows as straight families.
Kimberly Allen and partner Theresa Gonzales smiled in their portrait.
"We take care of each other like we are married, but I think that a lot of laws that are here now make it a little more difficult for us," Allen said.
Gonzalez is battling stage-four cancer. She said even though she and Allen have been partners for 11 years, a blood relative, even one she has never met, can have more say over her care.
"Make all the decisions and leave her out because we have no rights, no legal rights, and that is so wrong," Gonzales said.
State senators said they expect to approve the civil unions bill in the first two weeks of the session that begins Jan. 20. Then it goes to the House for its consideration.
Opponents staged a huge rally last year. Rally organizer Francis Oda said he fears that legalizing civil unions will lead directly to legalizing gay marriages.
"In other states that have adopted similar bills through the courts, same sex marriage has then been mandated," Oda said.
His group hopes that 24,000 people will turn out at the Capitol to oppose civil unions.
Same sex partners said they will fight just as hard.
"Even if it doesn't get passed by the time I die, people will know I fought long and hard for something that should be. It just should be," Gonzales said.