Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement lamenting Republican state Sen. Stephen Saland’s loss to Democrat Terry Gipson, saying it’s “unfortunate” Saland would lose in the “political environment” of today.

Saland, who backed Cuomo’s same-sex marriage bill and negotiated with him a religious protection component to the law, conceded the race to Gipson earlier today following an absentee and paper ballot count.

Cuomo endorsed Saland in the general election between Gipson and Conservative Party candidate Neil Di Carlo.

Saland was once considered the least vulnerable of the four Republican state senators to back the same-sex marriage legislation in 2011.

Sens. Roy McDonald and Jim Alesi, who also backed the bill, will not be returning to Albany this year, either. McDonald lost his GOP primary to Republican Sen.-elect Kathy Marchione and Alesi is retiring after firing off an ill-advised lawsuit against two constituents.

Of the four lawmakers, only Buffalo’s’ Mark Grisanti — a Republican who represents one of the most Democratic districts — is returning in 2013 for another 2-year term.

Cuomo’s statement this afternoon lauds Saland not just for his vote on same-sex marriage, but also his work on domestic violence legislation and backing an expanded state DNA database.

But the part that sticks out the most is the decrying of the current “political environment” — essentially suggesting that it’s unfair a member of the other party who worked so well with him on a variety of issues should lose his seat.

Here’s the full statement:

“Senator Stephen Saland has been an exemplary representative for the Hudson Valley whose leadership has made New York a better place. Steve has been a true partner who always put what was right before politics, and worked with me during the past two years to rebuild this state and restore the people’s faith in government. Throughout his career, he championed issues that directly affected New Yorkers, from strengthening protections against domestic violence, to putting in place an all-crimes DNA databank. As a result of his courage, tens of thousands of couples here in New York State have the freedom to marry whom they choose. Steve is a public servant of remarkable character, integrity, and courage and serves as a model for our collective aspirations of how our elected officials should perform. It is unfortunate that an elected official who stood so strong for equality, as Steve did, was not able to survive in today’s political environment. I thank Steve for his work on behalf of the people of the state of New York and his friendship, and give my warmest wishes to him, his wife Linda, and their family as they enter this next phase.”