ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is hailing passage in Washington state of a marriage equality bill and he is encouraging his state to do the same.

On Wednesday, Washington state lawmakers voted to approve gay marriage, setting the stage for the state to become the seventh in the nation to allow same-sex couples to wed. The governor there, Chris Gregoire, is expected to sign it into law next week.

In Maryland, O’Malley has proposed legislation to legalize same-sex unions. In a statement Wednesday night, he called the vote in Washington state another step forward for equal protection under the law for all Americans.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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