Lawmakers in Massachusetts have voted to allow a proposed amendment to ban gay marriage to move forward.

Massachusetts is the only state where gay marriage is legal.

The proposal still needs to be approved by 50 percent of the state's next legislature before it can be placed on the 2008 ballot as a referendum.

More than 8,000 same-sex couples have married in Massachusetts since such unions were allowed in 2004.

Three other U.S. states Connecticut, New Jersey and Vermont grant civil unions to homosexual couples.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.