OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington has moved closer to becoming the seventh state in the nation to legalize gay marriage.
The state House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 55-43 in favor of a bill to allow same-sex couples to wed. The state Senate approved the proposal last week on a 28-21 vote.
"Marriage is the word our society uses to describe committed lifelong relationships," said Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, a gay lawmaker who helped lead efforts to push the bill through the Legislature, The Seattle Times reported.
"I would like for our four children ... to grow up understanding that their daddy and papa have made the kind of lifelong commitment to each other," Pedersen said. "Marriage is the word we use in our society to convey that idea."
Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to sign the bill next week, and it would take effect 90 days later. But opponents have promised to fight gay marriage with a ballot measure that would allow voters to overturn the legislative approval.
If opponents gather enough signatures to take their fight to the ballot box, the law would be put on hold pending the outcome of a November election.
Otherwise, gay couples could wed starting in June.
Same-sex marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.
The Washington state House vote came a day after a federal appeals court declared California's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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