Senators in Washington late Wednesday
approved a bill that would make the state the seventh to legalize gay
The Senate voted on the bill after less
than an hour of debate and the chamber erupted in cheers when the 28
to 21 tally was announced.
Democrats fought back an amendment
supported by Republicans that would have expanded the bill's
religious protections to include private businesses and individuals
and another that would have put the measure up for a public vote.
Republican Senators Cheryl Pflug and
Steve Litzow spoke up in support of marriage equality.
“This has been a very personal and
emotional issue for everyone,” Litzow told colleagues. “I'm
voting for this bill because I believe it's the right thing to do. I
believe an adult should have the right to marry the person they love.
It's that simple for me. It's about the personal freedom of two
consenting adults to make that choice for themselves.”
“Marriage promotes responsibility,
commitment, and stability. Family values that we all believe are
important. We cannot guarantee the outcome of that pursuit – the
legislation is good, but it's not that good,” he added to a round
The measure now heads to the House,
where supporters outnumber opponents. Governor Chris Gregoire has
said she will sign the bill.
Opponents of marriage equality have
vowed to challenge the law with a referendum.
Washington currently recognizes gay and
lesbian couples with domestic partnerships.