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John Hawkins, Former South Carolina Senator, Now Supports Gay Marriage

Sep 20, 2013 | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Former South Carolina State Senator John Hawkins had a change of heart in terms of the battle for marriage equality, having previously spearheaded the campaign to pass the state's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Earlier this week, he gave the keynote speech at a meeting of the Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFA), saying that he regrets the role he played in passing the legislation, and now fully supports marriage equality.

"I was wrong about pursuing the marriage amendment. I wish I hadn't been so strident against it, said Hawkins to members of the Alliance for Full Equality. "I never pursued the marriage amendment for any kind of religious reason or so-called moral reason or anything like that. I pursued the marriage amendment out of a sense of duty to the law."

South Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage was put into place in 2006, with citizens passing the initiative by an overwhelming 78 percent. Hawkins, a former state senator for the 12th district, was asked by the AFA's Executive Director to be the keynote speaker at the group's meeting after seeing a Facebook post he made about his shifting perspective.

When asked how he came to change his mind in the above video, the ex-lawmaker stated "enlightenment, empathy, understanding, and also I have a deep dislike of any kind of bias or discrimination... people can change. There is a hope for change in people of all stripes for acceptance of our fellow human beings and their right to marry."

Hawkins isn't the first American politician to shift his stance on gay marriage following a previously rigid anti-gay platform. Two years after learning that his son was gay, Ohio Senator Rob Portman announced that he had changed his stance on same-sex marriage.

"It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that's of a dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have," Portman, a Republican, said at the time.

Other politicians who have reversed their stance on the issue include San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Hawkins served as South Carolina state senator from 2001-2009. You can watch the full speech in which Hawkins announced his change of heart below.

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