New York Governor David Paterson is expected to renew his pledge to drive a gay marriage bill through the state Senate tonight when he joins other VIPs at a gay fundraiser in Manhattan.

While not listed on the official program for the Empire State Pride Agenda's Fall Dinner, Newsday reported that Paterson is likely to make an appearance.

It is keynote speaker Senator Charles Schumer's debut appearance before a gay audience after announcing his support for gay marriage.

But all eyes will be on Paterson, who recently said he wants to put gay marriage on the agenda for a special session within weeks. As governor, Paterson sets the agenda for a special session, however, he cannot force lawmakers to take action.

Empire State Pride Agenda, the state's most prominent gay marriage advocate, has been lobbying senators to support the gay marriage bill that is waiting for Senate approval to become law.

Senate members, however, remain divided on the bill. While Democrats hold a slim majority in the 60-member Senate, only a few have publicly endorsed the bill. And five Democratic senators say they are against the measure. That means the bill needs the help of at least four Republican senators.

Still, openly gay Senator Tom Duane, a Democrat from New York City and sponsor of the measure in the Senate, says he remains upbeat.

“I still am very confident that when we do come back in the Senate that we'll pass marriage,” Duane told gay weekly the Washington Blade.

Alan Van Capelle, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, has praised Paterson for his continuing support.

“I personally know from my conservations with him he wants New York to once again be a leader in providing equality for all its citizens,” Capelle said in a statement.