SPOKANE -

Voters are narrowly approving Washington's new "everything but marriage" law. With about 50-percent of the expected vote counted Tuesday night, Referendum 71 was leading 51 percent to 49 percent Tuesday night.

R-71 asks voters to approve or reject the final expansion to the state's domestic partnership law, which grants registered domestic partners additional state-granted rights currently given only to married couples.

The expanded law would add benefits, such as the right to use sick leave to care for a domestic partner, and rights related to adoption, child custody and child support.

At the Rain Lounge in downtown Spokane the atmosphere was festive Tuesday night where supporters of R-71 gathered to watch the election returns come in. Many of the people who gathered at Rain Tuesday are in domestic partnerships and desperately want the legal protections that would put them on par with heterosexual married couples under state law.

?We're not up a lot but you know for us we expect a win, because we expect the voters of Washington to do the right thing they have in the past and we expect it now,? R-71 Jet Tilley said.

Those that are opposed to R-71 remain optimistic the numbers will swing in their favor once more votes are tallied. They say homosexuals do not have the right to redefine marriage and they also worry about the children in gay partnerships.

?I think we need to be very careful about changing thousands of years of good public policy with biological parents which is what this country was built on,? David Stapp, who rejected R-71, said.

Both sides recognize its still early and with only 50-percent of the state?s votes counted its still too close too call. Even still the supporters of R-71 partied on through the night Tuesday; even with a narrow margin of victory the folks with Approve R-71 in Spokane were extremely optimistic about the referendum?s success.