Wash. Senate begins floor debate on gay marriage

RACHEL LA CORTE Associated Press Published:

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- The Washington state Senate has started to debate a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage.

The bill has narrow support in the Senate, but is expected to pass because supporters have secured 26 "yes" votes -- one more than the minimum required for approval. Five senators, two Democrats and three Republicans, have not indicated how they will vote.

If passed by the Senate, the measure moves to the House, which has enough votes to pass the bill by a more comfortable margin. Also, Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire supports the measure and has said she will sign it into law. That would make Washington state the seventh state to approve gay marriage.

Opponents of same-sex marriage have already promised a referendum battle at the ballot if the measure becomes law.