The New Hampshire Legislature has approved a bill that once signed into law will make it the sixth state to legalize gay marriage in the United States, Reuters reported.

Additional Coverage: New Hampshire Poised to Pass Gay Marriage Bill.

House members approved the bill that grants gay and lesbian couples the right to marry just hours after senators had agreed to it this morning.

The House endorsed the bill on a 198 to 176 vote. Senators embraced the bill with a stronger 14 to 10 vote that came down along party lines with all Democrats in support and all Republicans in opposition.

The bill includes the religious protections sought by Governor John Lynch, who is expected to sign the bill, possibly as early as today.

If signed into law, New Hampshire would become the sixth state to allow gay marriage and only the third state to legalize the institution legislatively, instead of by court order.