Thursday, February 2, 2012

Washington State Senate Approves Bill to Legalize Gay Marriage

The Washington state Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, setting the stage for the state to become the seventh to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed.

The measure now heads to the House, which is expected to approve it. Gov. Chris Gregoire supports the measure and has said she will sign it into law, though opponents have promised to challenge it at the ballot with a referendum.

The packed public galleries burst into applause as the Senate passed the measure on a 28-21 vote Wednesday night after nearly an hour and a half of debate. Four Republicans crossed party lines and voted with majority Democrats for the measure. Three Democrats voted against it.

Democratic Sen. Ed Murray, the bill's sponsor, said he knew same-sex marriage "is as contentious any issue that this body has considered in its history."

Lawmakers who vote against gay marriage "are not, nor should they be accused of bigotry" he said.