Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has not ruled out a bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, said he is happy that the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York has lifted the "burden of discrimination" for gays.
Giuliani, who once lived with a gay couple after his second marriage fell apart, has said he does not support gay marriage.
But on Monday, when asked by NBC New York for his thoughts about the monumental gay marriage bill passed in Albany late Friday, Giuliani said:
"I'm glad the people that felt discriminated against had that sort of burden of discrimination lifted."
"I still favor marriage as being defined between a man and a woman but I completely understand what people are striving for," he added. "But I was very glad to see people relieved of this burden of discrimination, which is a terrible thing to feel."
Giuliani spoke to NBC New York at at golf outing for Joe Torre's Safe at Home Foundation.
During his time as New York City mayor, Giuliani supported numerous gay causes and marched in pride parades.
In 1994, speaking about the GOP, he told The Advocate that "there is no reason why the party shouldn't appeal to gays and lesbians in the same way it does to all Americans."