After long debate, the state House of Representatives this afternoon approved an "everything but marriage" bill granting same-sex domestic partners most of the rights and responsibilities of spouses.
The bill passed, 62-35. It now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is expected to sign it into law.
The vote was largely along party lines. Democrats argued that the bill is a simple matter of fairness for same-sex couples, in things like getting benefits when a partner is killed on the job.
"The principal we're talking about is equal rights under the law. It's that simple," said Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland.
Republicans and one conservative Democrat argued against the change, with many saying the bill is a legal path to full same-sex marriage in Washington.
"Everybody knows that this is what this debate is about," said Rep. Dan Roach, R-Sumner. He and other opponents of the bill urged the House to instead send the matter to voters.
"Those that are proponents of this bill know that a referendum will not pass," he said. "The people are not ready for that."