In a video message released on Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo calls gay marriage a civil right.

The 53-year-old governor is spearheading an effort to make New York the sixth state to legalize gay marriage.

In his message, Cuomo urges New Yorkers to support the proposed legislation.

“New Yorkers have a proud, progressive history as national leaders towards greater equality and respect for all,” Cuomo says in his 90-second video. “From the fight for women's suffrage to the struggle for civil rights, New Yorkers have been on the right side of history. Indeed New Yorkers have made history.”

“But on the issue of marriage equality, New York has fallen behind.”

Gay and lesbian couples are denied “The freedom to express their lifelong commitment. And the basic dignity of having their relationship recognized by the state they call home.”

“This is a matter of fairness and equality. It is not a question of religion or culture but a question of legal rights and government policy.”

He concludes with: “Contact your state legislators and urge them to vote yes on marriage equality.”

The Senate is key to passage, but so far Republicans, who control the chamber, remain united against marriage equality. Over the weekend, however, state Senator James Alesi attended a gay marriage fundraiser, raising the hopes of supporters.