A telephone poll of 682 New York State voters has suggested that a majority back Governor David Paterson’s proposal enabling same-sex marriage.

The poll, by the Siena Research Institute at Siena College in Loudonville, New York, illustrates a margin of 53 to 39 percent.

If Paterson’s bill becomes law, New York would follow in the same footsteps as Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa which have all passed bills that allow same-sex marriage.

New Hampshire and Maine already offer same-sex couples some form of legal recognition but are also considering the gay marriage bill.

Paterson introduced the bill last week and declared that many New Yorkers saw the matter of same-sex marriage as “an equality issue”.

“We put the bill out because there are 1,324 protections that people who are married receive legally, like the ability to make medical decisions for one’s spouse that you can’t have if you’re not married,” he said.

The poll illustrated that it was mainly the residents of New York City, women and voters under the age of 34 who backed the bill but there were voters in every region of the state.

The Democrats hold a majority in New York’s lower house, the assembly and therefore it comes as no surprise that the bill has widespread support there. The party however holds a minority in the Senate and many senators have said they will oppose the bill.

The poll found that the legislation had little favour among New York Republicans, older and African-American voters. It was fairly even among Christians; 53 per cent of Protestants opposed the bill compared with 41 per cent in favour while Catholics voted for the change by a margin of 49 to 41 per cent.

Shockingly, 43 U.S. states have legislation that explicitly prohibits same-sex marriage and 29 states have constitutional amendments restricting marriage solely between a man and a woman.

California did briefly recognise same-sex marriage until a referendum banned the legislation last year.