New York Gov. David Paterson on Thursday introduced a bill to allow gay marriage in the state, likening the effort to civil rights struggles and brushing aside objections from religious leaders.
If the bill becomes law, New York will follow Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa in legalizing gay marriage.
"Anyone that has ever experienced degradation or intolerance would understand the solemn duty and how important it actually is," Paterson, the state's first black governor, told a news conference in Manhattan.
Paterson was accompanied by city and state leaders, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The bill is again expected to be passed in the Assembly. In the Senate Democrats hold a majority for the first time in more than 40 years, but it is slim -- 32 to 30 -- and at least one Democrat has said he opposes the measure.
Lawmakers in New Hampshire and Maine, which offer same-sex couples some form of legal recognition, also are weighing bills to allow gay marriage.
Paterson, who said he was christened a Catholic, said gay marriage is the "right way" from a spiritual standpoint.
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