Support in New York has steadily grown over the last three years for the right of gay people to marry, according to a poll released today by Empire State Pride Agenda, the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organisation.

Conducted by Global Strategy Group in March, the poll found that 53% of New Yorkers support marriage for same-sex couples while 38% do not. These numbers and those from two other polls conducted for the Pride Agenda by Global Strategy Group in 2004 and 2005 track a steady increase in support among New Yorkers on this issue.

What was an almost even split in opinion two years ago has now become a 15 point margin in favour of marriage for same-sex couples. (In 2004, the split was 47 for, 46 against.)

Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle said: “A growing majority of New Yorkers support ending discrimination in marriage. There is a clear trend of support moving in our direction and we are very encouraged by these findings.”

Results show rising support of marriage for same-sex couples and are consistent with findings from three other polls released around the country in recent weeks. A national poll by the Pew Research Centre, a Zogby poll for Garden State Equality in the neighbouring state of New Jersey, and a non-partisan Field Poll in California all show the same trend.

“New Yorkers have been thinking through this issue for three years now,” said Mr Van Capelle.

“They’ve seen our families; they know we’re in loving, committed relationships and that many of us are raising children. They’ve heard how our families are harmed by the discriminatory denial of marriage and they’re moving to support us.”

On respecting out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples as legal marriages in New York, support again continued to increase. The 10 point margin that existed in 2004 on this question (52% for, 42% against) has now widened to 21 points (57% for, 36% against.)

The poll asked likely voters about their reaction to their state senator or assembly member taking a position in support of marriage for same-sex couples, in support of civil unions/domestic partnerships, and in opposition to marriage for same-sex couples.

The data indicated there was almost no political harm to an elected official voting to support marriage for same-sex couples (42% said it would make no make difference, 26% were more likely to support). The same holds true for the other two mechanisms, civil unions and domestic partnerships, that provide lesser protections for LGBT families. Respondents did, however, look much less favourably on elected officials who vote for legislation to discriminate against same-sex couples by denying them the right to marry (45% were less likely to support, 21% more likely to support, 30% did not make a difference.)

“Many of our elected officials have stated their support for our right to marry,” said Mr Van Capelle.

“They’re standing with us and for that we are grateful. We hope others who are still thinking about this issue will decide it’s time to join them.

“New Yorkers in larger and larger numbers are agreeing that the harmful effects of denying marriage to our families must end.”

Results were drawn from 658 random digit dialled telephone interviews in March of likely voters across New York State.

New York does not currently recognise gay marriage unlike Massachusetts. Vermont and Connecticut allow civil unions whilst domestic same sex partnerships are recognised in California.