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Washington senate approves same-sex marriage bill

The Washington state Senate [official website] approved Senate Bill 6239 [materials] to legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] by a vote of 28–21 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].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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