The marriage equality bill in Washington State moved one step closer to
becoming law Thursday when a Senate committee advanced the measure to
the floor for a vote.
According to the Associated Press, "The Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee approved the measure with a 4-3 voice vote split on party lines. The bill is expected to head to a floor vote next, though a date has not yet been determined."
The committee rejected several Republican amendments, according to the AP, including a proposal that would have required the marriage equality bill be sent to the ballot in November. Opponents have pledged to challenge any law passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire, but without a referendum requirement, they would need to collect 120,577 valid signatures by July 6 to put the issue on the ballot.
An undecided Democratic senator announced her support for the bill Monday, bringing the number of votes to the 25 required to pass the bill. Two Republican senators also support the bill, which is also expected to pass the House with bipartisan support.
Washington State appears on track to become the seventh state in addition the District of Columbia with marriage equality. Prominent corporations with ties to the state including Starbucks, Google, Microsoft, and Nike have announced their support for the measure.
Washington United for Marriage, the coalition of groups working to pass the bill, has been preparing for the likelihood of a referendum this fall. The state became the first to uphold a same-sex relationship recognition law in 2009, when voters affirmed expanded domestic partnerships by approving Referendum 71 by a 53% to 47% margin.
"We thank the Senate committee for quickly passing this important legislation for Washington families," said Lacey All, chair of Washington United for Marriage, in a statement. "We're excited that this bill continues to move towards final passage, and we will not let up until the Governor signs it. While we're happy with today's vote, we know it is but one battle in the fight for equality, and we will be steadfast in our continued effort to win marriage equality and defend it in November."
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