Washington state Senator Mary Margaret Haugen on Monday announced her support for making the state the seventh to legalize gay marriage, giving supporters sufficient votes to approve the measure, the AP reported.

Haugen released a statement after a Senate committee held the first public hearing on the legislation.

Haugen said she had wrestled with the issue.

“For me personally, I have always believed in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. That is what I believe, to this day,” she said.

“But this issue isn't about just what I believe. It's about respecting others, including people who may believe differently than I. It's about whether everyone has the same opportunies for love and companionship and family and security that I have enjoyed.”

She added that she was aware that she was casting the deciding vote.

“I know this announcement makes me the so-called 25th vote, the vote that ensures passage. That's neither here nor there. If I were the first or the seventh or the 28th vote, my position would not be any different.”

“This is the right vote and it is the vote I will cast when this measure comes to the floor,” she added.

With his partner Michael Shiosaki by his side, Democratic Senator Ed Murray, the chief sponsor of the bill in the Senate, testified before the Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee, saying that he had “waited 17 years to ask this body to consider marriage equality for gay and lesbian families.”

“I realize the issue of marriage for our families is emotional and divisive,” he said. “It touches what each of us holds most dear, our families.”

Opponents of the legislation handed out buttons that said “Marriage: One Man One Woman” outside the hearing.