New York Senator Charles Schumer has revealed that after years of opposing gay marriage, he now supports it.

The Democrat made his announcement at a meeting in a Manhattan restaurant but did not release news of his change of opinion until after it was reported by Empire State Pride Agenda this week.

He then released a three-line statement saying: “I have thought long and hard about it. I have always believed that one of the great traits in America is we seek equality and should always strive to achieve it. We may not have been ready in 1996 when this issue first arose in Congress but I believe we are now.”

The senator added at the meeting that he agreed with repealing the Defence of Marriage Act 1996, which he previously supported. .

In February, Senator Malcolm Smith said he was committed to legalising gay marriage in the state.

At the election in November the Democrats had a 32-30 majority in the Senate, their first in the Senate for more than 40 years.

However, at least two Democrats will block gay marriage legislation.

“We have reason to be encouraged,” Senator Smith said.

“We’re winning in the court of public opinion. I believe that the opponents aren’t gripped by the kind of all-consuming passion, if you will, to derail the rights of same-sex couples to unite under law … we all want marriage and family, and a home to raise our families.”