Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) threw her name into the ring for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Friday, but past comments that put her at odds with the current state of the party have already been resurfaced.
A CNN KFile investigation found Gabbard’s past work with “The Alliance for Traditional Marriage,” a group led by her father that successfully worked to pass an amendment to Hawaii’s constitution to empower the state legislature to “reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.” The group also supported gay conversion therapy and referred to homosexuality as an “unhealthy, abnormal behavior that should not be promoted or accepted in society.”
Watch Tulsi Gabbard’s announce her campaign on CNN:
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says she will run for president in 2020. "I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week," the Hawaii Democrat and Iraq War veteran told CNN's @VanJones68 https://t.co/5BzVi2JMFq pic.twitter.com/nNNmGCED5C
— CNN (@CNN) January 11, 2019
But Gabbard’s ties to the group and its mission aren’t simply through her father’s work. While serving in the state legislature in 2004, Gabbard testified against a bill to legalize same-sex civil unions in Hawaii:
“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.”
Gabbard repudiated her earlier views and apologized for them during her 2012 bid for Congress, but the resurfaced remarks forced the presidential hopeful to address her past once more, offering “regret” for her past positions in a statement to CNN.
First, let me say I regret the positions I took in the past, and the things I said. I’m grateful for those in the LGBTQ+ community who have shared their aloha with me throughout my personal journey.
Gabbard further touted her work in Congress to support the LGBT community and vowed to “continue to fight for equal rights for all.”
Over the past six years in Congress, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to help work toward passing legislation that ensures equal rights and protections on LGBTQ+ issues, such as the Equality Act, the repeal of DOMA, Restore Honor to Service members Act, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Equality for All Resolution. Much work remains to ensure equality and civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ Americans and if elected President, I will continue to fight for equal rights for all.
While Gabbard seems eager to address her past stances on LGBT rights head-on, it’s unlikely to be the last time she’ll have to explain her unique political positions. After a controversial visit to Syria in 2017 that included a meeting with President Bashar Assad, Gabbard was criticized as Assad’s “mouthpiece in Washington.”