Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard on
Friday announced that she will seek the Democratic nomination for
president in 2020.
But the 37-year-old Gabbard is being
criticized for her opposition to LGBT rights in the late 90s and
Gabbard's father, Mike Gabbard, headed
The Alliance for Traditional Marriage, which in the late 90s actively
opposed marriage equality. The political action committee spent more
than $100,000 in support of a constitutional amendment that gave
lawmakers the power to “reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.”
The amendment was approved.
Mike Gabbard was a leading anti-LGBT
activist in Hawaii. On his Let's Talk Straight Hawaii radio
show, Gabbard rallied against LGBT rights. He also was the director
of Stop Promoting Homosexuality, CNN
The Alliance for Traditional Marriage
called gay people “unhealthy” and said that society should not
accept same-sex unions. It also supported therapies that attempt to
alter the sexual orientation of people who are lesbian, gay or
In a 2000 press release from The
Alliance for Traditional Marriage, Tulsi Gabbard attacked LGBT rights
activists who opposed her mother's bid for the state's board of
“This war of deception and hatred
against my mom is being waged by homosexual activists because they
know, that if elected, she will not allow them to force their values
down the throats of the children in our schools,” Gabbard is quoted
as saying by the group.
When she first sought public office,
Gabbard touted working with her father to pass the marriage
“Working with my father, Mike
Gabbard, and others to pass a constitutional amendment to protect
traditional marriage, I learned that real leaders are willing to make
personal sacrifices for the common good. I will bring that attitude
of public service to the legislature,” she told the Honolulu
Star-Bulletin in 2002.
Gabbard won her race, making her the youngest woman elected to the Hawaii state legislature. As a state
lawmaker, she opposed a 2004 bill that sought to recognize gay and
lesbian couples with civil unions.
“To try to act as if there is a
difference between 'civil unions' and same-sex marriage is dishonest,
cowardly and extremely disrespectful to the people of Hawaii. As
Democrats, we should be representing the views of the people, not a
small number of homosexual extremists,” she said at the time.
While running for Congress, Gabbard
apologized for her past comments.
“I want to apologize for statements
that I have made in the past that have been very divisive and even
disrespectful to those within the LGBT community. I know that those
comments have been hurtful and I sincerely offer my apology to you
and hope that you will accept it,” Gabbard said.
In Congress, Gabbard has been a strong
supporter of LGBT rights, earning a perfect score in the Human Rights
Campaign's (HRC) latest Congressional Scorecard, a measure of a
lawmaker's support for such rights.
As a Democratic member of the Hawaii
Senate since 2006, Mike Gabbard has introduced legislation aimed at
limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.