Governor Christine Gregoire plans on Monday to sign newly passed legislation legalizing gay marriage in Washington state, making it the seventh U.S. state to recognize same-sex nuptials, her office said on Thursday.
A statehouse signing ceremony in Olympia, Washington's capital, was slated for 11:30 a.m. local time on Monday (1930 GMT). The bill won final legislative approval from the state House of Representatives on Wednesday by a vote of 55-43.
The measure will not take effect before early June. Opponents have vowed to seek its repeal at the polls in November, but they cannot begin collecting signatures for a petition to overturn the measure by referendum until it is signed into law.
House approval of the Senate-passed bill came a day after a federal appeals court handed gay rights advocates a legal victory in California by declaring a voter-approved gay marriage ban in that state to be unconstitutional.
Democrats, who control both legislative chambers in Olympia, accounted for the lion's share of support for the bill. The stage for swift passage of the measure this year was set after Gregoire, a Democrat, announced last month she would endorse the legislation.
Several prominent Washington-based companies employing tens of thousands of workers in the state also have supported the bill, including Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks. Opponents were led by Catholic bishops and other religious conservatives.
Supporters of same-sex marriage are pushing similar statutes in Maryland and New Jersey, and a referendum to legalize gay marriage in Maine has qualified for the November ballot there.
Six other states already recognize gay marriage -- New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa -- as does the District of Columbia.
Gregoire, in a statement issued after Wednesday's vote, said Washington state would "no longer deny our citizens the opportunity to marry the person they love."
"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," she said.
(Reporting by Nicole Neroulias; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Tim Gaynor and Peter Cooney)
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