Pro-Gay Marriage GOP State Senator Concedes

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POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y., (UPI) —  A Republican New York state senator who voted for same-sex marriage conceded defeat to a Democratic challenger Thursday, ending 32 years in the Legislature.

“After learning today the final count of the absentee ballots and affidavits have revealed that the voters have selected Terry Gipson as the state senator of the 41st Senate District, I respectfully concede in my bid for state Senate and offer my sincere congratulations to Mr. Gipson,” state Sen. Stephen Saland, 69, of Poughkeepsie said in a statement.

Gipson, village of Rhinebeck trustee, was ahead by 1,963 votes with 150 remaining to be counted, Dutchess County Democratic Election Commissioner Fran Knapp told the Poughkeepsie Journal.

The Saland-Gipson race was close enough Election Day, Nov. 6, that the winner could not be decided until absentee and affidavit ballots were counted. The Senate district covers parts of three counties in the Hudson Valley region north of New York City.

Gipson said in a statement: “I just received a call of congratulations from Senator Saland. He graciously wished me good luck going forward and expressed his affection for the people of the 41st District. I want to be sure to acknowledge the long, distinguished career of Senator Saland. I think I can speak for all the people of Dutchess and Columbia counties in thanking him for his selfless dedication and service. A sincere and heartfelt ‘Thank you, Senator.'”

Saland was the last of four Republican senators who broke with their party last year to provide the pivotal votes to legalize same-sex marriage in New York.

His decision, which he announced on the Senate floor June 24, 2011, shortly before the Marriage Equality Act came up for a vote, tipped the balance in favor of the vote’s passage.

“I have defined doing the right thing as treating all persons with equality,” Saland, a lawyer, said in announcing his decision. “And that equality includes the definition of marriage. I fear that to do otherwise would fly in the face of my upbringing.”

Eighteen months earlier Saland voted “no” on same-sex marriage.

Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo crossed party lines in October to endorse Saland for re-election. Independent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also endorsed Saland.

Of the four Republicans who voted for same-sex marriage, only one, Buffalo Sen. Mark Grisanti, will return to office next month.

Rochester Sen. Jim Alesi did not seek re-election and Saratoga Sen. Roy McDonald lost a GOP primary to Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione, who was elected.

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