A Washington state House Judiciary Committee advanced a marriage equality bill yesterday, edging it closer to becoming law.

The gay marriage bill was passed on a party lines, with seven Democrats voting for it, and six Republicans voting in opposition.

Three Republican amendments were also rejected, including one that would have added private businesses and individuals, such as bakers and photographers, to religious exemptions that don’t require religious organisations or churches to perform marriages, and doesn’t subject them to penalties if they don’t marry gay or lesbian couples, the AP reports.

The bill will now go to a House fiscal committee but a hearing has not been scheduled.

A Washington Senate panel advanced the bill last Friday. It is believed to be facing a full Senate floor vote tomorrow (US time), where it is expected to pass.

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