Washington State Legislature Approves Gay Marriage
Washington State is poised to become the seventh state to approve gay marriage, following a 55-43 vote Wednesday in its House and pledge by its Democratic governor, Chris Gregoire, to sign the bill.
The decision comes a day after a federal appeals court in California declared a 2008 ballot initiative banning gay marriage in the Golden State unconstitutional, issuing a detailed ruling that held the voter-approved ban violated the equal protection rights of same-sex couples.
Legislators in Washington state cited the California federal appeals court ruling before the historic vote in their state. As expected, gay marriage opponents replied that legalizing gay marriage would harm the traditional institution of marriage. The federal appeals court ruling will likely be appealed, either to the full 9th Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court.
Gov. Gregoire is expected to sign the legislation next week. Gay marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C. Legislators in New Jersey are expected to vote on gay marriage next week, and Maine could see a gay marriage proposal on the fall ballot. Meanwhile, proposed state constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage will be on the ballot in North Carolina in May and Minnesota in November.