To: Roy McDonald, From: Bombers and Matt Baumgartner, Re: marriage equality

mcdonald marriage equality billboard baumgartner

You can see it as you travel south on I-787.

This electronic billboard message is now showing along I-787, just north of the Central Warehouse. Bombers owner Matt Baumgartner bought the billboard to reach one person: state Senator Roy McDonald. The Republican, who represents Rensselaer County and much of Saratoga County, is publicly "undecided" on legalizing same-sex marriage.

We emailed with Matt, who's gay and has been an outspoken proponent of marriage equality, this afternoon about why he chose a billboard to reach McDonald.

mcdonald marriage equality billboard baumgartner wide

matt baumgartner croppedMatt at his home in December 2009
How did the idea for the billboard come about?

It came about because there is a real chance that this vote may come onto the Senate floor again, and I think it's important that our local Senators recognize that local businesses support Marriage Equality.

Why this medium and not some more traditional approach?

Because billboards are not liberal or conservative. They target everyone. And I thought it would have the best chance of getting back to Senator McDonald.

Have you talked with Roy McDonald or his office about this issue?

I called his office and I was denied a meeting or a conversation.

Did you have any concerns about mixing your business with politics?

I don't. I feel strongly about this and I wholeheartedly believe this is a civil rights issue. I think it's important to take a public stand on this issue. Besides, life is too short.

How much did the billboard cost? How'd you pick the spot for the billboard?

The billboard cost $4,000 and the location was chosen because it was the closest digital billboard to the capital building.

When this issue last came up in the state Senate -- December 2009 -- Roy McDonald voted against legalizing same-sex marriage (Neil Breslin voted in favor of it).

After some face-to-face lobbying on the issue today from Andrew Cuomo, McDonald said he's "somewhat undecided" and "I'm sensitive to all people." [TU CapCon]

We have a request for comment about the billboard in with McDonald's office. If we hear back, we'll update.

Earlier on AOA: Interesting in 2009: Matt Baumgartner

Find It

Bombers marriage equality billboard
Water Street
Albany, NY 12207


Is there anything not to love about Matt B.? [the answer is clearly a definitive no]

Talk about using your powers for good :)

Matt, thank you for doing this.

This is awesome that Matt has the guts to take a stand like this. I hope that it will draw people to his businesses, rather than the other way around. More importantly, I hope that Senator McDonald takes notice and listens!!

There;s a lot of discussion on this over at Table Hopping too:

This almost makes up for how crappy Bombers food/atmosphere has become. Almost.

This is WONDERFUL! I'm behind Matt and this initiative 100% and will be certain to spend more of my money at Bombers!! THANK YOU MATT!!! by making this highly publicized, and widely support political statement (supported especially highly amongst the demographic that bombers/wolffs targets), Matt is getting people to promise to spend more money at his restaurants? Is it completely cynical of me to suspect that was part of the idea all along?

Awesome. Take a stand. Marriage equality is a civil rights issue plain and simple. Great to see local business people being involved politically, wish we saw it more often.

Now i'm hungry for shintizel.

What? No puppy on the billboard? A business owner publicly taking a stand. What is so wrong with that M?

Political speech + company logo = tax deductible business write-off

Best 4 grand in advertising Matt ever spent. What's next? Walk in the Bombers and tell the girl at the register 'I'm gay and I pay' and get a free 12oz soda with any purchase?

He is not undecided. He will not vote for gay marriage and risk losing the conservative vote. He plays it safe and is known for not returning calls. I will be voting for someone else next time, that is what voters have the power to do. He is a nice guy but ineffective as a Senator.

Thanks Matt!

Kudos - Make love, not sarcasm.

There's nothing wrong with taking a stand- just don't be fooled to think that this is an altruistic act. There's no way he's going to lose money on this. In a way he's sort of shifted the focus from the actual issue, on to what a great guy he is, and he's made money in the process! Why not take the money you were going to spend on burritos and schnitzel and put it towards solving the actual problem, rather than lining the pockets of a guy who just happened to agree with the same politics as you?

Wow M, maybe you need a hug.

M is right on one count. Baumgartner did tie the name of his restaurant to the issue of gay marriage. But here's a catch we can take comfort in, even if we lose this vote: look how much change has happened in our culture. Even a bitter, anonymous troll assumes that coming out in favor of gay marriage is GOOD for business.

If this billboard was in Mississippi, would M then be willing to call Baumgartner's actions altruistic?

That being said, this billboard will not get me back into Bomber's. Non-surly service, reduced mark up for sit down meals, plus well seasoned food that is served consistently at the correct temperature just might.

For the record, "trolling" refers to making outrageous or spurious claims with the intent of inciting outrage. I'm making actual legitimate points, none of which have been refuted, despite the condescending tone of responses, about the attributing Matt Baumgartener's actions to pure altruism.

I'm not surly, I'm just disgusted by the readiness for the people of the capital region to mark anyone with an even somewhat reasonable political opinion as some sort of amazing martyr. Go to Bombers if you like the food. Don't do it out of allegiance to a businessman who likely is manipulating your political beliefs for his own profit.

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