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Washington State Lawmakers Pass Same-Sex Marriage Act

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(OLYMPIA, Wash.) -- Washington state is on the verge of becoming the seventh state in the U.S. to allow same-sex marriages after House lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday to legalize these unions.

However, the joy felt by supporters of homosexual nuptials may be short-lived because its opponents have vowed to let Washington residents determine the future of the law by putting it up for a vote in November.  In that case, gay and lesbian couples won’t be able to wed until the referendum is decided in 10 months.

If same-sex marriage foes are unable to get the required number of signatures for a November referendum, the law will go into effect 90 days after Gov. Chris Gregorie signs it next week.

Washington, which passed a Defense of Marriage Act in 1998, has been more open toward gay rights since then, instituting a Domestic Partnership law five years ago.  Polls have also shown that a majority of residents would not vote to overturn a same-sex marriage law passed by the Legislature.

Besides the District of Columbia, only New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Iowa permit gays and lesbians to legally wed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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