"People of religious beliefs, many, believe that the sacred relationship between a man and woman is the only threshold for marriage. I respect that point of view. However we are living in a society of civil laws - we separate church and state," Paterson told CNN's John King.
"We are not trying in anyway to disrespect anyone's religious belief. We are to trying to, in anyway, make people believe what we believe about the validity about same sex marriage," Paterson added. "We are trying to get them to accept that in our society the laws should protect people equally."
Paterson announced last week he will introduce legislation that would allow same-sex couples in the state to enter into civil marriages and enjoy the same rights afforded to heterosexual married couples.
The legislation would give same-sex couples 1,300 to 1,400 rights that don't exist unless a couple is married, Paterson said.