Washington Senate approves bill to legalize gay marriage

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AP

Posted on February 2, 2012 at 2:17 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 2 at 8:49 AM

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Same-sex marriage has taken a major step toward legalization in Washington state, where the state Senate narrowly has approved the measure with four Republicans siding with the majority and three Democrats voting no.

The House is expected to pass and the governor promises to sign the bill which would make Washington the seventh state to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed. Opponents have promised to challenge it by referendum.

Democratic state Sen. Ed Murray, the bill's sponsor, says those who voted no on the contentious issue "are not, nor should they be accused of bigotry."

Republican state Sen. Dan Swecker argues that the bill "will lead to the silencing of those who believe in traditional marriage."

Once the measure becomes law, opponents can force a referendum by gathering 120,577 signatures by June 6.

State Senate support for the measure had been uncertain until last week

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