By Alysha Bohanon
Washington is on its way to becoming the seventh state to allow same-sex marriages after the State Senate voted to pass a bill Wednesday allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed as soon as this summer, news sources report.
Supporters had expected the State Senate to be the more difficult chamber in which to pass the bill, but it was approved after a relatively short debate by a vote of 28 to 21, the New York Times reported.
The bill now moves on to the House of Representatives, which could take action on it as soon as next week and is expected to approve it. Gov. Chris Gregoire is a supporter of the measure and has said she will sign it into law, according to NPR.
If passed, opponents of the bill plan to challenge the measure with a public referendum. To bring the issue to the ballot, they must collect 120,577 signatures by June 6, according to NPR.
If opponents are unable to college the required number of signatures, the measure will take effect and allow gay and lesbian couples to wed in June. If the signatures are acquired and the measure is challenged, same-sex couples would have to wait until the results of a November election, NPR reports.
New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. already allow same-sex marriage, according to the New York Times.
Although the measure would allow gay and lesbian couples, it could not guarantee its success, noted Senator Steve Litzow, a Republican of Mercer island speaking in favor of the bill, according to the New York Times.
"We cannot guarantee the outcome of that pursuit," Litzow said. "The legislation's good, but it's not that good."