"I regret the role I played in causing such pain, and I remain committed to fighting for LGBTQ+ equality," Rep. Tulsi Gabbard wrote online. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images Rep. Tulsi Gabbard apologized Thursday for "wrong" and "hurtful" statements she made years ago touting her work for an anti-gay group, saying in a series of posts to Twitter that "my views have changed significantly since then."
"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 wrote in a flurry of posts that was also accompanied by a video 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."
Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who announced a 2020 presidential bid last Friday, has come under fresh scrutiny in recent weeks after CNN published a story outlining her past remarks. During a 2002 run for the Hawaii state legislature, the Democratic congresswoman touted her work with The Alliance for Traditional Marriage, an organization run by her father that advocated against pro-gay rights lawmakers and in favor of an amendment to the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage.
Gabbard’s father, Mike Gabbard, advocated against gay rights in Hawaii in the 1990s, telling Honolulu Magazine that homosexuality "not normal, not healthy, morally and scripturally wrong." Tulsi Gabbard said she supported her father’s views at the time, and The New Yorker reported that she advocated against legislation in Hawaii to combat anti-gay bullying, saying it would be "inviting homosexual-advocacy organizations into our schools to promote their agenda to our vulnerable youth.”
"While many Americans may 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," she wrote on Twitter Thursday afternoon. "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."
Tulsi Gabbard said she has since changed her views and has repeatedly voted in Congress to protect gay rights. She is a member of the House LGBT Equality Caucus, and gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign gave her a score of 100 for her voting record.
The lawmaker previously apologized for her comments about LGBT issues in 2012 when she was first elected to Congress. But with a 2020 run increasing scrutiny on her past, she renewed her apology on Thursday.
"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," the Hawaii Democrat wrote online. "I regret the role I played in causing such pain, and I remain committed to fighting for LGBTQ+ equality."