Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat governor of New York, has told gay rights campaigners he will devote his “full attention” to marriage equality.

Speaking to campaigners in a closed meeting, he reportedly said: “For me, this is personal.”

According to the New York Times, participants in the meeting said the governor was “unexpectedly forceful and impassioned” about the issue.

He is to ask his most senior aide and secretary, Steven M Cohen, to oversee the administration’s efforts to bring about marriage equality.

Mr Cuomo is said to be cautious of moving too soon, as a bill was defeated on the Senate floor in 2009 after support was misjudged.

In a statement issued after the meeting, he said: “To me this is more than just a piece of legislation. This is about the lives of people who I have known for many years, who currently are without the rights to which they are entitled.”

He was elected last November and promised to campaign for gay marriage.

Five states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington DC – currently allow gay couples to marry.

California’s ban is under review, while Maryland is expected to be next to make the change.