[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/06/art.paterson.gi.jpg caption="On Thursday, New York Gov. David Paterson announced he will introduce a bill that would allow same-sex couples in New York State to enter into civil marriages with the full rights of legal marriage."](CNN) - A new poll indicates that majority of New Yorkers support the legalization of same-sex marriages.
Fifty-three percent of New Yorkers questioned in a Siena College Research Institute poll support a bill that would allow same-sex couples to wed, with 39 percent opposing the move.
The survey suggests that Democrats, independent and young voters, and women strongly support Senate passage. Republicans strongly oppose passage. Men, older voters, African-Americans, and Protestants are also opposed. The strongest support for the measure is found in New York City.
On Thursday, New York Gov. David Paterson announced he will introduce a bill that would allow same-sex couples in New York State to enter into civil marriages with the full rights of legal marriage. A similar attempt two years ago failed to make it through the state's legislature.
Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, Paterson strongly defended a proposed bill that aims to legalize same-sex marriage in his state.
"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's push to legalize gay marriage doesn't seem to be helping his image. Only 27 percent of people questioned in the poll have a favorable opinion of Paterson, down two points from last month.
"By a fairly significant margin, voters would like to see New York join with Vermont, Massachusetts, Iowa, and other states in allowing same sex couples to marry here," says Siena New York Poll Spokesman Steven Greenberg. "For women and young voters it's a resounding 'yes.' Men and older voters are more closely divided and more likely to say 'no.' "
In a Quinnipiac University poll of New York State voters conducted earlier this month, 41 percent said gay couples should be allowed to marry legally, while 33 percent say they should be allowed to form civil unions, but not marry and 19 percent say there should be no legal recognition of a gay union.
The Siena College Research Institute poll was conducted April 13-15, with 682 New York State registered voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.