A statehouse signing ceremony in Olympia, Washington's capital, was slated for 11:30 a.m. local time on Monday. The bill won final legislative approval from the state House of Representatives on Wednesday by a vote of 55-43.
The measure will not take effect before early June. Opponents have vowed to seek its repeal at the polls in November, but they cannot begin collecting signatures for a petition to overturn the measure by referendum until it is signed into law.
House approval of the Senate-passed bill came a day after a federal appeals court handed gay rights advocates a key legal victory in California by declaring a voter-approved gay marriage ban in that state to be unconstitutional.
Democrats, who control both legislative bodies in Olympia, accounted for the lion's share of support for the bill. The stage for swift passage of the measure this year was set after Gregoire, a Democrat in her last term of office, announced last month that she would endorse the legislation.
Several prominent Washington-based companies employing tens of thousands of workers in the state also have supported the bill, including Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks. Opponents were led by Catholic bishops and other religious conservatives.In light of Tuesday's ruling upholding the overturning of California's Prop 8 as unconstitutional, it is going to be more difficult for opponents to take away the right to marry by voter referendum, but that won't stop them from trying. There are to measures planned, one to over turn the newly approved legislation and another to define marriage as a heteros-only club, according to separate Reuters report.
Chris Plante, regional coordinator for the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage (NOM), said that his group plans to back the referendum effort, but will "keep the initiative in our back pocket."
"We're going to go forward as a united group because what's more important than the process is the end game of overturning this law and restoring marriage to its rightful definition," he said.
His group has not decided how much money it could provide for a ballot campaign to ban same-sex marriage, Plante said, but he estimated that such an effort would cost over $2 million.
The group said it will also follow through on its pledge to spend $250,000 to defeat the Republican senators who voted for the bill, should they seek office again.
"Politicians have to understand that there's a price to pay for voting to redefine marriage -- it is not what the people of Washington want," Plante said.It ain't over 'til it's over, folks, but we've got momentum and legal precedent on our side.