An effort that would effectively repeal a proposed gay marriage law in Washington state is underway before passage of the law, the AP reported.

Democratic Senator Ed Murray on Friday officially filed his bill which seeks to make Washington the seventh state in the nation to grant gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.

The state currently recognizes gay couples with domestic partnerships. A 2009 expansion of the law gave gay couples all the protections of marriage. A ballot initiative to repeal the law failed.

Stephen Pidgeon, an attorney who worked with groups to overturn the state's domestic partnership law, last week filed an initiative that would affirm marriage as a heterosexual union.

“We believe this issue is even more volatile than domestic partnerships,” Pidgeon said. “The voters should get to vote on it. Let's see what they think.”

Pidgeon's initiative would alter the current state statute's definition of marriage from a civil contract between a male and a female to “between one man and one woman.”

The clarification is needed because legalizing gay marriage “will lead to the liberalization of marriage laws to allow for polygamy and other forms of relationships.”

“We believe that the critical issue here is, does the word marriage have particularized meaning, and if so we need to secure that definition as a matter of law,” Pidgeon said.

Supporters of the initiative must collect at least 241,153 valid voter signatures by July 6 to qualify for the November ballot.

Governor Chris Gregoire, who previously signed bills expanding the state's current domestic partnership law, last week publicly endorsed marriage equality for the first time.

The bill, which remains two votes shy of passage, will have its first public hearing on January 23.