A same-sex marriage bill has been passed by the state of Washington, making it the seventh American state to legalise gay and lesbian marriages.

On Wednesday, the Washington House approved the bill on a 55-for and 43-against vote. This after the bill was first passed by the state’s Senate last week.

Governor Chris Gregoire said that she will sign the legislation into law, possibly as soon as next week.

She also issued a statement welcoming the passage of the bill by the legislature.

“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,” said Gregoire.

“We tell every child of same-sex couples that their family is every bit as equal and important as all other families in our state. And we take a major step toward completing a long and important journey to end discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

Once signed by Gregoire, Washington will follow New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont in offering citizens marriage equality.

Opponents of same-sex marriage rights are expected to attempt to force the state to hold a referendum on the issue. This is a similar strategy as that which led to the banning of same-sex marriage in California through the Proposition 8 measure that was approved by voters there in 2008.

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