A state domestic partnership bill, which would extend virtually every right of marriage to registered same-sex partners, passed the senate tonight despite vehement opposition from religious conservatives. Three groups opposing the measure generated a flood of calls and emails to senators in swing districts. One of those groups, the Washington Values Alliance, ran deceptive televisions ads encouraging constituents to pressure their senators to block the bill.

"All the legislators targeted by nasty advertisements stood strong and supported the bill," says Connie Watts, executive director of Equal Rights Washington, an organization that supported the bill. She adds that three Republican senators voted for the measure.

Indeed, right-wing opposition was no match for the bill's broad base of existing support. The senate voted in favor by 30 to 18 (one excused). The house version of the bill—which has 57 co-sponsors—appears ready to pass easily.

The legislature created the domestic partnership registry, which initially provided only a handful of rights to same-sex partners, in 2007, and lawmakers added more rights for registered couples in 2008.

This year's bill hasn't quite passed yet, but an early pat on the back to prime sponsor senator Ed Murray and the tireless advocates at Equal Rights Washington.