Hawaii Democrat and presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard has addressed her anti-LGBT past in a new apology to the rainbow community.
Gabbard posted a video on her social media platforms on Thursday (January 17) in which she apologised for her past activism against marriage equality and assured the community her views had changed, and that she is an ally in the fight for LGBT+ rights.
“In my past I said and believed things that were wrong, and worse, hurtful to people in the LGBTQ+ community and their loved ones,” Gabbard said.
“Many years ago, I apologised 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. My views have changed significantly since then.”
Tulsi Gabbard is running for president
Gabbard first announced she was running for president in the 2020 election last week in an interview on CNN. The network was quick to uncover her past conservative positions on gay marriage and an instance in which she referred to LGBT+ campaigners as “homosexual extremists.”
The Hawaii Democrat and Iraqi war veteran, who became the first Hindu and first Samoan-American elected to Congress in 2012 at the age of 31, first apologised for her past anti-LGBT views during her congressional run, and later attributed her change of perspective to her foreign deployment.
“When we divide people based on who they are or who they love, all we are doing is adding fuel the flames that perpetuate bigotry and hatred.”
— Tulsi Gabbard
Democrat Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, New York’s first openly gay member of the House of Representatives, vouched for Gabbard’s recent record as a supporter of LGBT+ rights.
In a statement, Maloney said that while Gabbard “started out in wrong place” she has “been a solid friend in Congress.”
Tulsi Gabbard attributes anti-LGBT views to her father
In her video message, Gabbard also acknowledged her anti-gay marriage views were formed by growing up in a socially conservative household, but that she has evolved since.
The Hawaii Democrat said: “While many Americans may be able to relate to growing up in a conservative home, my story is a little different because my father was very outspoken. He was an activist who was fighting against gay rights and marriage equality in Hawaii—and at that time, I forcefully defended him and his cause.
“But over the years as I grew up, I formed my own opinions based on my life experience that significantly changed my views—at a very personal level in truly having aloha, love, for all people, and making sure that every American, regardless of sexual orientation, is treated equally under the law.”
Gabbard said she hoped her background may help convince others to renounce discrimination and join in the fight for LGBT+ equality.
“When we deny LGBTQ people the basic rights that exist for every American, we are denying their humanity—denying that they are equal,” said Gabbard.
“We are also creating a dangerous environment that breeds discrimination and violence. When we divide people based on who they are or who they love, all we are doing is adding fuel the flames that perpetuate bigotry and hatred.”
The Democrat also thanked all the LGBT+ people and allies who have helped her realise that her position on LGBT rights was at odds with her belief in equality.
The Hawaii Democrat is seen as standing firmly in the progressive wing of the party, renouncing her role as Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 to support Senator Bernie Sanders in his bid for the party’s presidential nomination, which he eventually lost to Hillary Clinton.