Washington has passed a marriage equality bill after a 55-43 vote in the state House. The bill will now go to Governor Chris Gregoire (pictured) who introduced it, and has pledged to sign it.

Washington will then become the eighth location and seventh state in the US to allow same-sex marriages.

The state already has a domestic partnership law granting many of the benefits similar to marriage.

The win comes just a day after the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that California’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

The bill will take 90 days to come into effect after the governor signs, but marriage equality foes have pledged to introduce a ballot measure that would allow voters to overturn the legislative approval.

They’ll need over 120,000 signatures by a June 6 deadline in order to take their fight to the ballot box, which would put the law on hold pending the outcome of a November election.

Otherwise gay couples will be able to wed from June.

When introducing the marriage equality bill last month, Governor Gregorie, a committed Catholic, said that domestic partnerships were not the same as marriage.

“That’s a version of the discriminatory separate-but-equal argument of the past,” she said.

“For years that argument was used to keep African Americans separate. Laws that keep some Americans in a separate status are inherently unjust.

“When someone asks me what marriage means I don’t think of the legal protections of a marriage license. Instead I think about love, I think about commitment, I think about responsibility, I think about partnership. Same-sex couples should not be denied that meaning of marriage.”

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