OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma voters would decide whether to enact a constitutional ban on gay marriages under a measure approved Thursday in the Oklahoma Senate.


Senate Republican leader James Williamson offered an amendment to a bill on the Senate floor that would define marriage as only between one man and one woman and prohibit the state from recognizing homosexual marriages performed outside the state.


The amended bill, which passed on a final vote of 38-7, now heads to the full House for consideration. If approved, the issue will be placed on the November general election ballot. State law already prohibits gay marriage, but the constitution can only be amended by a vote of the people.


``I am thankful to the Senate's Democrat leadership for finally giving up their efforts to keep the people from voting on the marriage protection amendment,'' said Williamson, R-Tulsa. ``All we wanted all along was for the Democrat leadership to allow an up or down vote on this issue, and to allow the Senate to work its will.''


Opponents of the measure argued the ban restricted the civil rights of Oklahoma citizens.


``Gay people want to have some type of civil rights just like the rest of us,'' said Bernest Cain, D-Oklahoma City. ``If you're not for gay marriage, don't marry someone of the same sex.''


Sen. Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta, attempted to insert language that would allow voters to determine whether cockfighting should be a county option, but that amendment was narrowly tabled.