New York Governor David Paterson says he will re-introduce a gay marriage bill.

Speaking on WHCU-AM Wednesday, the Democratic governor said he would make another effort at passage.

“We'll put a bill out and let the people decide one way or the other,” Paterson, a gay marriage supporter, said.

But state Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith, a Democrat and gay marriage supporter, admitted during a Human Rights Campaign fundraiser in February that he does not have the votes to pass gay marriage in the Empire State.

Assembly members approved a gay marriage bill in 2007 but the effort fizzled in the Senate.

Gay marriage became a point of contention in the selection of Smith to lead the Senate. Several senators groused that he was too pro-gay marriage.

“Why can't a bill just be on the floor and lose?” Paterson said, “If you have the votes later on to pass it, bring it back.”

Paterson's remarks might have been motivated by gay marriage wins in Vermont and Iowa. As a result, gay activists in New York complained that movement in New York was too slow.

“We are thrilled that Vermont – another one of New York's neighbors – has passed a marriage equality bill through the state legislature,” Alan Van Capelle, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, a group that lobbies for gay marriage, said on Tuesday. “But I'm embarrassed for New York state.”

“We hope that our state Senate in New York will now look at three of the states that surround New York – Massachusetts, Connecticut and now Vermont – and realize that we are falling behind,” he added.

A Quinnipiac University poll out this week found that a large majority of New Yorkers favor recognition of gay unions. Forty-one percent of people asked said they believe gay couples should be allowed to marry, while 33 percent prefer civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.