Olympia, WA —
A bill that would make Washington the seventh state to legalize gay marriage cleared a Senate panel on Thursday, the AP reported.
The Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Election Committee approved the measure with a 4 to 3 party-line vote.
The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week.
Committee members voted down several amendments offered by Republicans, including one that would have required the measure be approved by voters in November.
"We thank the Senate committee for quickly passing this important legislation for Washington families," Lacey All, chair off Washington United for Marriage, said in a statement. "We're excited that this bill continues to move toward 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," All added.
Opponents of marriage equality have vowed to put the issue on the November ballot.
On Monday, after the bill's public hearing in the Senate, Senator Mary Margaret Haugen announced her support for the measure, giving supporters the final vote needed to secure approval.