Gay marriage bill passed by the House

A House committee on Monday approved a measure to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state, setting the stage for final passage this week.

The House Judiciary committee advanced the measure on a 7-5 vote after a public hearing. The Washington House passed the bill on a 55-43 vote on Thursday.

The Senate passed the measure on a 28-21 vote last Wednesday.

That vote sends the bill to Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is expected to sign it into law next week. She issued a statement saying it was “a major step toward completing a long and important journey to end discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

The proposal would take effect 90 days after the session ends next month, but opponents have promised to fight back with a ballot measure that would allow voters to overturn the legislative approval.

State Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, also backs the measure.

“Marriage is more than just a collection of rights and protections — it is the commitment between two people who love each other and have pledged to support one another in life,” said Ranker in a released statement.

Any challenge to the bill can’t be filed until after it is passed by the full Legislature and signed into law by Gregoire. Opponents then must turn in 120,577 signatures by June 6.

Gay marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C. Lawmakers in New Jersey are expected to vote on gay marriage next week, and Maine could see a gay marriage proposal on the November ballot.

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