The US state of New Jersey’s Senate will consider the question of gay marriage next week, just days after New York’s lawmakers voted to reject it.

Senator Ray Lesniak said the bill will come before the committee on Monday and is scheduled for a vote on Thursday.

Addressing gay rights campaigners on the steps of the Statehouse yesterday, Lesniak said he was optimistic for the 21 votes needed to pass the bill.

Senate supporters were unwilling to vote on the bill before they believed it had enough votes to pass.

Governor Jon Corzine has said he will support gay marriage, although governor-elect Chris Christie, who takes office next month, has said he will veto the bill.

In September, Republican politicians in New Jersey called for a constitutional amendment in 2010 to allow voters to decide whether gay marriage should be legal.

If successful, the move would see the issue on the November 2010 ballot, with voters being asked whether they favoured a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

A survey of New Jersey voters last month found that a slim majority were opposed to legalising gay marriage.

The research, carried out by Quinnipiac University, found that 49 per cent of 1,615 voters were opposed, with 46 per cent in favour. The remainder were unsure.

New Jersey currently has civil unions.