The Republican lawmaker who cast the decisive 32nd vote to legalize same-sex marriage revealed who may have been one of the most influential lobbyists on that issue: his wife, Linda.
“My wife has been a long-time advocate for marriage equality,” said State Senator Saland, in an interview this afternoon with members of the Poughkeepsie Journal.
“Most of the groups who came to lobby me in favor,” said Saland, “were aware or were made aware by me that they had someone in my house — my wife of nearly 46 years — who was certainly lobbying me on behalf of marriage equality.”
He said his wife “probably” urged him to support the bill in 2009, with Republicans, who were in the minority, took a party line vote against the bill. “I think all of my children pretty much were the same persuasion,” he said.
The bill passed 33 to 29, with four Republicans voting for the bill, along with all but one of the 30 Democrats in the State Senate. After Saland signaled he would vote for the bill, freshman State Senator Mark Grisanti of Buffalo announced he would too. Also voting for it were longtime Republican lawmakers Jim Alesi of Rochester and Roy McDonald from the Capitol region.
Saland did not pinpoint a sudden moment when he came to support the bill in principle, but said securing guaranteed protections for religious organizations days before the vote sealed the deal for him.
In the days leading up to the vote, Saland said his Albany office was inundated with up to 70 calls an hour. In Poughkeepsie, it was up to 100, he said. “Many of the calls, on both sides of the issue, came from outside the district,” Saland said, including some international calls.
“Life has been a blur for me in the past couple of weeks,” he conceded.