Delaware lawmakers have approved a bill authorizing same-sex civil unions and Democratic Gov. Jack Markell says he looks forward to signing the measure into law.

With Markell's signature, the bill will take effect Jan. 1. It would make Delaware the eighth state to establish civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. Five other states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.

Lawmakers defeated nine amendments to the bill before approving it on a 26-to-15 vote Thursday. The Senate approved it last week.

The legislation gives same-sex couples the same rights and obligations of married couples. But it limits marriage under Delaware law to opposite-sex couples.