Washington is in line to become the seventh state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage after a bill Wednesday passed legislative approval.
The 55-43 bipartisan vote in the House set off wild applause in the chamber and comes the same week that California overturned Prop 8.
But there’ll be no walking down the aisle just yet. Under Washington state law, as the New York Times reports, foes of the bill need more than 120,000 signatures to put the measure to a public vote, which can be done in a referendum in November.
The National Organization for Marriage, opponents of the bill, has said it will do just that. Otherwise, the measure will likely go into effect at the end of the legislative session in June.
Washington Governor Christine Gregoire has vowed to sign a bill, which was approved last week in the senate, in the coming days.
Gregoire, in a statement released Wednesday after the vote, said “This is truly a historic day in Washington state, and one where I couldn’t be more proud. With today’s vote, we tell the nation that Washington state will no longer deny our citizens the opportunity to marry the person they love.”
Read more: Court strikes down Prop 8 marriage ban
Sen. Ed Murray, a House Democrat and the bill’s sponsor, said, “We have come this far because of families. Because gay and lesbian veterans, law-enforcement officers, small-business owners and couples from all walks of life have had the courage to share their stories of love and commitment.”
But some legislators were just as vocal in their opposition: State Rep. Jay Rodne, a Republican, said, "Marriage is about life ... It's about joining that man and that woman as husband and wife and mother and father, linking them with their natural-born children or adoptive parents and carrying forward our civilization."
State Rep. Jim Moeller, an openly gay Democrat who presided over the vote, said, “Time was always on our side. It’s been said that change is inevitable, but growth is optional. Some folks choose not to grow, while other folks are waiting for our laws to catch up. This is about love and family and commitment.”
Rep. Glenn Anderson was one of the few Republicans to vote for the bill. He rose to speak about his gay brother, the Oregonian newspaper reported. Anderson said “domestic partnership” was not the same as marriage. "Separate by name and act is not equal," Anderson said.
New Jersey lawmakers could approve a bill as early as next week, the Times reported. And in Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley has proposed legislation to legalize same-sex unions. In a statement Tuesday about Prop 8, he said, “Many people understand that over the long term, the principles of equal protection under the law and of equal respect for the freedom of all will prevail.”
Gay marriage is legal in Washington, D.C., Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, Iowa and Massachusetts.