David Paterson, the governor of New York, has confirmed he will introduce legislation to make gay marriage legal in the state.

If passed, the bill will make it the fifth state to legalise gay marriage, after Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Iowa.

“The timing was always right,” said Paterson, a Democrat, speaking in Hempstead, New York.

“It’s just who is willing to take that step, and I am.”

Paterson did not say when he planned to introduce the bill but supporters say they have been invited to a news conference held by him today.

Earlier this week, unnamed sources told Advocate.com that the announcement will take place at 10am local time on Thursday at Mr. Paterson’s office in Midtown Manhattan.

Last week, he told an Ithaca radio station that he wants to advance legislation in Albany to allow same-sex marriage.

“We’ll put a bill out and let the people decide one way or the other,” he said. “Why can’t people just debate the bills, vote on it, and it goes up or down?”

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

Schumer made his announcement at a meeting in a Manhattan restaurant.

He subsequently 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.”