The Washington state Senate now has enough votes to pass a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, reports the Washington Blade.

The Senate needed 25 votes in order to pass the bill endorsed by Governor Christine Gregoire.

The news means that the bill is guaranteed passage in both houses, and will proceed to the Governor, who has promised to sign the bill.

The announcement came on the same day as the first hearing of the bill, featuring testimony for and against marriage from advocates and opponents across Washington.

“I have waited 17 years to ask this body to consider marriage equality for gay and lesbian families,” openly gay Democratic Seattle Senator Ed Murray (who is sponsoring the Senate bill) said.

“I realise the issue of marriage for our families is emotional and divisive. It touches what each of us holds most dear, our families.”

In a filmed statement announcing the bill earlier this month, Governor Gregoire borrowed the phrase used in Australia’s internationally renowned marriage equality ad campaign in her bid to garner support for the law change.

“It is time,” she said.

“It’s over time for us to ensure gay and lesbian couples have equal rights, and that means marriage in Washington state.”

Bordering Canada in the US’s north-west, the state already has a domestic partnership scheme which grants similar benefits to married couples.

“I don’t think about the legal protections of a marriage license,” Gregoire said.

“Instead I think about love, I think about commitment.”

Democrats control both the state Senate and House in Washington, which has increased the chances that any gay marriage bill would pass.

Gregoire dismissed criticism at the time of her announcement that the new push would distract from solving the state’s budget crisis.

“One thing I think would be reprehensible is the idea that we would say to someone, ‘I’m sorry, we’re going to discriminate and deny you equality because we have a budget problem,’” she said.

“That makes no sense to me. This is about our values.”

Watch the Governor’s full original statement below.

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