A bill which would make Washington the seventh state to legalize gay marriage cleared a House panel on Monday, the AP reported

The House Judiciary Committee approved the measure with a 7 to 6 party-line vote.

Members rejected three amendments offered by Republicans, including one that would have expanded the bill's religious exemptions to include private businesses and individuals.

Lacey All, chair of Washington United for Marriage, thanked the committee for its work.

“As the bill continues to progress in both chambers in Olympia, it is clear that momentum is on our side,” All said in a statement. “The stories of love, honor, commitment and family that our legislators are hearing from their constituents continue to be the single most important factor that sets us apart from those who oppose this bill.”

The vote came as the Senate is expected to vote on its companion bill later this week.

Senator Ed Murray, the chief sponsor of the bill in the Senate, said he expects the measure to reach the Senator floor on Wednesday.

Supporters of marriage equality have said they have sufficient support to clear both chambers and Democratic Governor Chris Gregorie has said she will sign the bill.

However, opponents have vowed to challenge the law with a referendum.

Washington currently recognizes gay and lesbian couples with domestic partnerships.