Last week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled to the state's capitol to stand up for marriage equality. On Thursday, he took that message to Manhattan's Cooper Union College, and took it one step further.

Near equality is no equality for gay couples, he said in his speech, calling on New York to lead the American journey forward to legalize same-sex marriage this year, the New York Times reported.

The question for every New York State lawmaker is: Do you want to be remembered as a leader on civil rights? Or an obstructionist? On matters of freedom and equality, history has not remembered obstructions kindly, he said. Not on abolition. Not on women's suffrage. Not on worker's rights. Not on civil rights. And it will be no different on marriage rights.

As mayor, Bloomberg has no direct control over state legislation. And while Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been urging the Legislature to make gay marriage legal, well-funded conservative and religious opposition have always fought back. As opponents to the legality of gay marriage, a new defense of marriage bill, one that would not recognize same-sex marriages sealed in other states, has been introduced.

Bloomberg argued that voting for gay marriage is in line with the Republican Party's conservative principles of limited government and personal liberty.

But each time the Democrat-controlled State Assembly has passed the measure, the Republican-controlled State Senate has not. Cuomo, who is also a supporter of gay marriage, said he will not seek a vote unless he is confident the measure will pass.