Sen. Stephen Saland said tonight he would vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, giving the Senate the 32 votes necessary to make New York the sixth and largest state in the nation to allow gay couples to marry.
In a statement provided to Gannett’s Albany Bureau, Saland, a Poughkeepsie Republican, said while he voted no in 2009, he has changed his position.
“My intellectual and emotional journey has at last ended,” he said in a statement. “I must define doing the right thing as treating all persons with equality in the definition of law as it pertains to marriage. To do otherwise would fly in the face of my upbringing.”
Saland’s decision assures the bill’s passage. A vote was expected later tonight after Senate Republicans agreed to put the bill on the floor.
Updated: On the Senate floor, Saland spoke about how the bill includes protections for religious organizations, saying he feels comfortable with the language. He voted in favor of the amendment to the bill which provides those protections.
The amendment passed 36-26, but at least one senator, Kemp Hannon, a Republican from Long Island, said he would back the amendment but not the bill.