Former Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway became the first person to sign a petition to get an equal marriage constitutional amendment on Florida’s ballot.
"If you’re married you're married – you should see your significant other in the hospital, make choices for your significant other if you need to make those choices,” Hardaway said Wednesday night as he showed his support for the effort that would legalize gay marriage in Florida.
At an event at Scully’s Tavern in Kendall, he attached his signature to a petition from Equal Marriage Florida, which wants the state constitution amended to define marriage in Florida as a “union of two persons,” instead of between one man and one woman.
Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages in 2008.
Hardaway has come full circle since a 2007 radio interview.
"I hate gay people. So I let it be known. I don't like gay people. I don't like to be around gay people. I'm homophobic,” he said then.
He said Wednesday those comments were “truly, truly wrong.”
Hardaway said gay cousins and relatives of his sat him down and talked with him.
“It was very, very, very heartfelt from them,” he said.
Hardaway said he is making amends – and since his infamous interview he has put in time with organizations that help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
Vanessa Brito, the chairperson of Equal Marriage Florida, has been by his side – and caught flack for it.
"I've gotten a lot of heat. And criticism from gay community – even from the mainstream community,” she said.
Brito said she is touched not just by Hardaway’s tolerance, but by the fact he owned up to a mistake – and has become a voice for the initiative.
Brito said the initiative protects religious freedom, as it states that no religious organization can be required to officiate a marriage to which it objects.
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