Facing renewed scrutiny after she announced her bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Representative Tulsi Gabbard apologized Thursday for espousing views against gay marriage in the past, calling them “wrong, and worse, hurtful.”
“I grew up knowing that every person is a child of God, and equally loved by God. I have always believed in the fundamental rights and equality of all people,” Gabbard said in her apology. “But I also grew up in a socially conservative household, where I was raised to believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. For a period of my life I didn’t see the contradiction in those beliefs.”
“My views have changed significantly since then,” the Hawaii Democrat added.
In the early 2000s, Gabbard touted her work for her father’s organization, the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, when she was running for a seat in the Hawaii state legislature. She fought against what she described as “homosexual extremists” and objected to a proposed resolution condemning anti-gay bullying, saying it was “inviting homosexual-advocacy organizations into our schools to promote their agenda to our vulnerable youth.”
Since then, however, the congresswoman has become a member of the House LGBT Equality Caucus, promoted numerous pieces of pro-LGBT legislation, and earned the endorsement of the LGBT-rights group Human Rights Campaign.
Gabbard previously apologized in 2012 for her past opposition to gay marriage, but her comments recently surfaced again, prompting her latest apology.
“While many Americans may relate to growing up in a conservative home, my story is a little different because my father was very outspoken,” Gabbard said in a Thursday tweet. “He was an activist who was fighting against gay rights and marriage equality in Hawaii – and at that time, I forcefully defended him. But over the years, I formed my own opinions based on my life experience that changed my views – at a personal level in having aloha, love, for all people, and ensuring that every American, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, is treated equally under the law.”
“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,” she added. “I regret the role I played in causing such pain, and I remain committed to fighting for LGBTQ+ equality.”