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Tulsi Gabbard apologizes to LGBTQ community over past rhetoric, stances



Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is already facing the first controversy of her 2020 campaign for president, and it comes less than a week after her ambitions of ending up the White House were made public.

Gabbard on Thursday released a video apologizing for her past rhetoric and stances toward the LGBTQ community.

The Hawaii congresswoman said, “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,” Gabbard added. “I’m deeply sorry for having said them. 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.”

Since Gabbard announced she’s running for president, her past statements and legislative behavior toward the LGBTQ community have swiftly come back to haunt her as many have expressed doubts about her progressive credentials.

Gabbard in the early 2000s worked for an anti-gay organization led by her father, The Alliance For Traditional Marriage.

Moreover, as a 22-year-old state legislator in Hawaii in 2004, Gabbard testified against a bill legalizing same-sex civil unions. She decried “homosexual extremists” as she rejected the legislation.

“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,” Gabbard said at the time. “As Democrats we should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists.”

Read more: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announces she’s running for president in 2020

Gabbard addressed this and her father’s anti-gay activist in her statement, and acknowledged there was a time when she “forcefully defended him and his cause.”

She then added, “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’s stance on LGBTQ rights seems to have evolved over the years, at least from a public and legislative standpoint.

Read more: Sen. Mazie Hirono signals she will not endorse fellow Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard in her bid for president

She’s apologized over her anti-gay statements and actions multiple times in the past, including during her run for Congress in 2012.

As a congresswoman, Gabbard has often sided with the LGBTQ community. She co-sponsored the The Equality Act, for example, a bill to amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect LGBT individuals.

Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney, who is openly gay, earlier this week came to Gabbard’s defense as she faced criticism over her past.

Maloney said those who work against equality “carry that stain and must be held accountable.”

He then added, “But I also understand how important it is that we encourage people to admit their error, grow and evolve, as much of the country has done over the last two decades. That is exactly what Tulsi Gabbard has done. She recognized the fault in her past views and the pain she was causing, and she has apologized.”

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