The resignation of Eliot Spitzer as Governor of New York today, after he was linked to a prostitution ring, has pushed David Paterson into the limelight.

From Monday Mr Paterson will become the first African-American to be Governor of the state and the first blind Governor in US history.

He has been actively fighting for gay rights for more than two decades.

“David Paterson is a terrific, progressive guy, extremely LGBT-friendly,” Ethan Geto, a Democratic analyst and LGBT activist, told The Advocate.

“He is somebody who would absolutely follow through on the commitment of the senate Democratic conference to pass gay marriage.”

Last December Governor Spitzer said that he wants a Democrat controlled state Senate to legalise gay marriage as one of its priorities in 2009.

Mr Paterson, speaking to gay publication the New York Blade just after his inauguration in January 2007 about the push for gay marriage, said:

“I’m not going to be in that fight, I am going to be in front of that fight because my first day as (state Senate Minority Leader) was the day we passed the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act.

“One of the reasons we need same-sex marriage is because the statistics for heterosexual marriage are so bad; that might be a way to upgrade some of the success rates.”

In 1985 Mr Paterson was elected to represent Harlem in the state Senate and in 2002 was elected minority leader, the first non-white legislative leader in New York’s history.

In 2004 he became the first visually impaired person to address a Democratic National Convention.