CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - After he spearheaded the constitutional amendment that bans the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in South Carolina, John Hawkins may seem like an unlikely choice to speak before a local gay rights group.
But the "Alliance for Full Acceptance" says his appearance could be "healing" for its members.
Hawkins, a former state senator for the 12th district, has changed his public stance on same-sex marriage since his 2005 introduction of the amendment.
"I was wrong about pursing the marriage amendment," Hawkins said. "I wish I hadn't been so strident against it."
Hawkins said his opinion changed over the past eight years because of "enlightenment, empathy and understanding."
"Alliance for Full Acceptance" Executive Director Warren Redman-Gress said he invited Hawkins to speak before the group's bi-monthly meeting after reading a Facebook post from the former lawmaker, which detailed his changed opinion.
"I'm really hoping that people are going to walk away from this with a little bit of healing," he said. "It would be great if everyone who stood against us in the Senate said, 'We were wrong; In fact, you really do deserve equal rights.'"
Hawkins served in the state Senate from 2001 until 2009 and currently works as a lawyer in Greenville. He says he has no plans to run for public office again.
"People can change," "There is hope for change for people in all stripes for acceptance of our fellow human beings and their right to marry."