The Washington state Senate [official website] approved Senate Bill 6239 [materials] to legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] by a vote of 2821 late Wednesday evening. Washington currently grants expanded domestic partnership rights [JURIST report] rather than full marriage or civil union rights to same-sex couples. Several amendments affording protection of religious objection to same-sex marriage were added to the bill in debate. Others, that would have triggered a referendum on the issue, and would have allowed marriage-related business owners' ability to discriminate against same-sex couples, were rejected.
The House of Representatives [official website] is expected to pass the bill soon. Governor Christine Gregoire [official website], a major supporter of the movement, has sworn to sign the bill [JURIST report] on several occasions, and on Wednesday released a statement [text] commending the Senate.
Washington is poised to become the eighth jurisdiction in the US to legalize same-sex marriage [US map]. In a similar situation, New Jersey is considering legalizing same-sex marriage soon, although it currently has a civil union system in place. In November, a lawsuit [JURIST report] was allowed to continue in New Jersey, which seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the state civil union law as a contravention of both the Fourteenth Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] and the New Jersey State Constitution. Same-sex marriage has been legalized in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports]. The case for same-sex marriage was recently made by JURIST contributor Kimberly Bennett in Judicial Activism and the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage [JURIST op-ed].