Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard on
Tuesday responded to reports about her opposition to LGBT rights in
the late 90s and early 2000s.
The 37-year-old Gabbard, a Democrat,
last week announced that she will seek the Democratic nomination for
president in 2020.
In a nearly 4-minute video posted on
YouTube, Gabbard apologized for her past views.
“In my past I said and believed
things that were wrong, and worse, hurtful to people in the LGBTQ+
community and their loved ones. Many years ago, I apologized for my
words and, more importantly, for the negative impact that they had.
I sincerely repeat my apology today. I'm deeply sorry for having
said them,” Gabbard said.
Gabbard's father, 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
headed the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, which in the late 90s
actively opposed marriage equality and called gay people “unhealthy,”
and was the director of Stop Promoting Homosexuality. As a
Democratic member of the Hawaii Senate since 2006, Gabbard has
introduced legislation aimed at limiting marriage to heterosexual
When she first sought public office,
Tulsi Gabbard touted working with her father to pass the marriage
amendment. As a state lawmaker, she opposed a 2004 bill that sought
to recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions.
“My views have changed significantly
since then, and my record in Congress over the last 6 years reflects
what is in my heart: A strong and ongoing commitment to fighting for
LGBTQ+ rights,” Gabbard said on Tuesday. “I know that LGBTQ+
people still struggle, are still facing discrimination, are still
facing abuse and still fear that their hard-won rights are going to
be taken away by people who hold views like I used to.”
“When we deny LGBTQ people the basic
rights that exist for every American, we are denying their humanity –
denying that they are equal. We are also creating a dangerous
environment that breeds discrimination and violence.”
“I’m so grateful to my friends and
loved ones, both gay and straight, who patiently helped me see how my
past positions on these issues were at odds with my values, my aloha,
and that they were causing people harm. I regret the role I played in
causing such pain, and I remain committed to fighting for LGBTQ
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.