Former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has flipped his stance on gay marriage.

Bruno told the AP that he supports the legalization of gay marriage in New York, a flip for the eighty-year-old lawmaker.

Albany's most powerful Republican lawmaker retired last year after serving 13 years as majority leader, but his opinion is likely to influence the debate on a gay marriage bill waiting for the Senate's approval to become law.

“As a Republican, I believe in personal freedom,” Bruno said in a statement. “I opposed same-sex marriage largely because the overwhelming majority of my caucus opposed it. As a relatively conservative Roman Catholic, I instinctively view marriage as the foundation of the family.”

“However, that view really does conflict with the rights that are afforded all of us,” he added. “This is America and we have inalienable rights … life is short and we should all be afforded the same opportunities and rights to enjoy it.”

Bruno said longtime friend Governor David Paterson's strong support for gay marriage helped him recognize marriage as a civil right.

But with six official days left in the legislative session, the Senate engulfed in a power struggle, and no public Republican support on the issue, gay marriage in the Empire State is likely on hold till next year.