Washington state will likely become the seventh state to legalize marriage between homosexuals, as supporters appear to have enough votes for the measure to pass.
Gay marriage supporters celebrated State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen's announcement Monday of what appeared to be the deciding vote to legalize same-sex marriage.
"I had to tell people how I felt," Haugen said.
The once undecided state senator promised she will be the 25th vote for gay marriage.
"I just couldn't continue," Haugen said. "I'm going to disappoint a lot of people with my position. Like I've said, I don't believe it's my position to judge people."
Her decision came on the same day state lawmakers heard testimony on both sides of the issue.
"I urge to uphold the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman," Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle Catholic archdiocese said.
Michael Shiosaki said he and his partner hoped they could marry this year.
"As Ed and I begin our third decade together, we hope that this is the year that we can marry," Shiosaki told legislators.
Outside the statehouse in Olympia, hundreds of supporters of traditional marriage protested the measure, arguing it goes against what the Bible teaches.
"We will not take this mess anymore," promised Pastor Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church.
Plans are already underway to put the measure on a state ballot and let the voters decide.
"If it does pass, then we're going to put up a referendum. And I think that then we're going to find out where people in this state really stand," Hutcherson explained.
"We've been preparing for that possibility and I think we're ready. But I think the voters are going to be with us," said State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Wash., who introduced the bill on Jan. 13.
The proposed measure could be in trouble if voters in Washington have the opportunity to decide on the definition of marriage.
So far, 31 states have put the issue up for a vote and in every case, voters defined marriage as between one man and one woman.