Lawmakers in Washington State have introduced a gay marriage bill, The Columbian reported.

Democratic Representative Jim Moeller introduced his bill in the House on Tuesday, while Senator Ed Murray, a Seattle Democrat, introduced a companion bill in the Senate on Monday.

Washington state lawmakers defined marriage as an institution between a man and a woman when it banned gay marriage in 1998. In 2006, the Washington Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law.

The state, however, recognizes gay and lesbian couples with domestic partnerships.

In 2009, the Legislature expanded its domestic partnerships law to include all the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Opponents put the law up for a vote, but voters decided to keep the law.

“Over the past several years, the Legislature and the public together have been steadily building a bridge to equality for gay and lesbian families,” Moeller, who is openly gay, said in a statement.

“Gay and lesbian families in Washington now enjoy the same state spousal rights that their married straight friends enjoy – except the name 'marriage.'”

Fifteen senators have backed the measure in the Senate, while forty-three representatives sponsored the House version.

Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire signed the original 2006 domestic partnerships law and its three expansions.