The New York legislature may vote this week on whether to allow same-sex marriage in the state.

AFP reports that governor David Paterson called on the state’s upper house yesterday to hold a special legislative session on the issue before Friday.

In an unusual mid-week address, he said: “It is an issue that in many ways speaks to the very foundation of our democracy. I would like it addressed as immediately as possible, because justice delayed is justice denied.”

The bill passed the state’s Assembly in May and now must be approve by the Senate before going to Paterson for signing. He cannot force the Senate to pass the bill, but said recently he was optimistic that it would. Paterson has spoken of his support for gay marriage a number of times.

In 2007, a similar bill passed the New York Assembly 85-61 but failed in the Senate.

The move would make New York the sixth state to legalise same-sex marriage after Vermont, Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. It was briefly allowed in California until a referendum stripped the right.

Last week, Maine’s voters opted to repeal a bill allowing same-sex marriage. It had not been enacted before the November 3rd vote.