The Washington state Legislature voted 55-43 to pass a marriage equality bill Wednesday afternoon. The bill now heads to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s desk, where she is expected to quickly sign it.
“Marriage is the word that our society uses to describe a committed lifelong relationship,” said Rep. Jamie Pederson, one of the out members of the House, prior to the final vote. “Thousands of same-sex couples in our state deserve the respect from their government that only marriage can convey.”
The House also rejected all amendments to the bill, including one that would have allowed businesses and individuals the right to refuse service to same-sex couples such as making wedding cakes or hiring a photographer. It would have also protected the groups from civil lawsuits for discrimination.
“Cal Anderson, this vote is for you,” said Rep. Sam Hunt. Anderson was Washington state’s first openly gay legislator. He died in 1995 after becoming HIV-positive.
The Washington state House of Representative is predominantly Democrat and, in past years, has achieved more in marriage equality than counterparts in the state Senate.
Last week, the state Senate historically voted 29-21 to pass the companion bill.
Expect Gov. Gregoire to sign the bill in the coming days.
Related story: Gregoire recently posted a HRC marriage equality video
While Washington state is well on its way to becoming the seventh state with marriage equality, opponents are not likely to give up. Don’t be surprised if there is a referendum in November to repeal marriage equality in Washington.