The lower house of Maine’s legislature has voted in favour of the state allowing gay marriages. If enacted, Maine would be the fifth state to allow same-sex marriages.

The bill had previously been approved by the state’s Senate. It passed in the House of Representatives 89 votes to 57. The bill will now return to the Senate for its final approval.

In order to become law, the bill will need the approval of Governor John Baldacci. He has previously implied his opposition to gay marriage but last month indicated that he is keeping an open mind on whether to give approval.

His spokesman David Farmer said: “He absolutely is listening to what people have to say. But at the end of the day, I think it will come down to what he believes is the right thing to do.”

A decision by the Governor could come as soon as tomorrow.

One member of the House of Representatives, Sheryl Briggs, whose daughter is a lesbian told the House: “As a member of this legislative body ethically it is my duty, my responsibility, to publicly say to my daughter I do not support her way of life. I just had to finally confess to her exactly how I feel, and now I have no choice. I have to hit that button.”

If passed, Maine will join Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts in allowing same sex marriages. Gay marriages have been banned in California following the voter initiated Proposition 8 during the Presidential election.

This evening, Washington DC voted in favour of recognising gay marriages conducted in other states.