Rhode Island is virtually assured to become the tenth state to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Rhode Island Senate voted 26-12 on Wednesday to approve legislation that would allow same-sex couples to legally marry in the state as early as August 1.

"This is a historic piece of legislation, one that literally has been in the works for more than 20 years,” Sen. Donna Nesselbush, D-Pawtucket, the bill’s main sponsor in the Senate, told the Associated Press. “This is something that undoes centuries of discrimination against gay and lesbian couples.”

The bill easily passed through the state House earlier this year, but was expected to face opposition in the state Senate. The legislation heads back to the state House for a final vote before Gov. Lincoln Chafee can sign the bill into law, which he has promised to do.

“With the historic passage of the marriage bill in the state Senate today, Rhode Island’s committed and loving gay and lesbian couples are on the cusp of equality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “On the heels of November's perfect sweep for marriage, our win today reaffirms that momentum is truly on our side. Making today’s victory especially meaningful is the fact that all of the Senate Republicans stood on the right side of history, voting in favor of marriage equality.”

Rhode Island is the only state in New England that does not allow same-sex marriage.

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[Same sex marriage via Shutterstock]