For the first time a majority of New Yorkers approve of gay marriage.

A majority (53%) of respondents to the Siena College Research Institute poll agree with New York Governor David Paterson's plan to allow gay men and lesbians marry.

The result is the largest approval jump in the poll's history as gay marriage continues to gather steam. Last year, the poll indicated that a large number of New Yorkers backed gay marriage, but that was only a 3% jump from 2007. This year's impressive 7% increase is more of a turning point. Opposition to gay marriage in the Empire State has whittled down to a mere 39%. Those most likely to oppose gay marriage include blacks, Protestants, Republicans (59%) and those over the age of 55.

“Clearly, New Yorkers are choosing equality for our families,” said Alan Van Capelle, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, a group that lobbies for gay marriage in NY, in a statement.

The new poll is good news for beleaguered Governor Paterson, who announced Thursday he would introduce a gay marriage bill and personally lobby for its passage. Senator Ruben Diaz, a Democrat from the Bronx and New York's loudest opponent of gay marriage, called for the governor's resignation.

“It's time for state Senators who still aren't with us to look at these results and ask themselves this simple question: Do I want to be on the right side of history or the wrong side of history when the story is written about how marriage equality came to New York state?” Van Capelle said.

“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,” Siena poll spokesman Steven Greenberg said.

“It says there is certainly no political downside for the Senate passing the bill,” he added.