New York state Senator Thomas Duane announced Monday a gay marriage bill will be passed in the Empire State this year.

Duane, a Democrat from Manhattan, is the state's biggest advocate of gay marriage and the Senate sponsor of the bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.

“I'm telling you, we have the votes. It's coming to the floor. It's passing,” Duane, who is openly gay, said.

Last month, the state Assembly approved the gay marriage bill, but with only three weeks left in the session, opponents were starting to claim victory for the year.

Democratic Senator Ruben Diaz of the Bronx rallied opposition in a large demonstration consisting mostly of Latino Catholics in Manhattan last month.

“They accuse us of homophobia,” Diaz, a Pentecostal minister who heads the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, told an estimated crowd of 20,000. “They accuse us of being radicals … They accuse us of many things because they want to close the mouth of the church.”

“The sleeping giant has awakened and nothing can make him go back to sleep,” Diaz roared.

Diaz claims that as many as six Democratic senators side with him on the issue, leaving little hope for the bill in a Senate narrowly ruled by Democrats.

Duane, however, insisted he has the 32 votes needed for passage and said the list included some Republicans. No Senate Republican has publicly expressed support for gay marriage.

Governor David Paterson has pledged to sign the bill into law.