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Austin Jenkins reporting for NPR

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Same-Sex Marriage Bill Easily Clears Key Hurdle In Washington State

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Same-Sex Marriage Bill Easily Clears Key Hurdle In Washington State

Sen. Ed Murray, D,, left, and his partner Michael Shiosaka wave at spectators in the upper gallery after the Washington state Senate voted for a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage. Elaine Thompson/AP hide caption

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Elaine Thompson/AP

Sen. Ed Murray, D,, left, and his partner Michael Shiosaka wave at spectators in the upper gallery after the Washington state Senate voted for a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage.

Elaine Thompson/AP

"In the end, it wasn't even close," The Seattle Times writes this morning.

By a 28-21 vote early Wednesday evening, the Washington State Senate approved a bill legalizing gay marriage in the state.

"While it wasn't final passage," the Times adds, "the Senate always has been viewed as the biggest hurdle for same-sex marriage legislation, as it was for gay-rights bills in previous years. The measure now heads to the House, where supporters say they have more than enough votes. It's expected to pass as early as next week. The governor strongly supports the bill as well."

Both chambers of the state legislature are controlled by Democrats. Gov. Christine Gregoire also belongs to that party.

Reporting from Olympia for our Newscast Desk, Austin Jenkins says the debate in the Senate "was impassioned, but civil. Openly gay Democrat Ed Murray of Seattle set the tone when he defended those who opposed the bill."

"They are not, nor should they be accused of, bigotry," Murray said. "Those of us who support this legislation are not, and we should not be accused, of undermining family life or religious freedom."

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Jenkins adds that opponents, "have vowed to put a repeal measure on the fall ballot."

Austin Jenkins reporting for NPR

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With Gregoire's signature, Washington would become the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage.