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Gabbard Attempts to Do Damage Control After Anti-LGBT Past Revealed

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

It didn’t take long for progressives to turn on Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) after she announced Friday that she was throwing her hat in the ring for 2020. Her cardinal sin? Not only did she previously hold anti-gay views—she actively worked against the LGBT community through her father’s organization, The Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values, in the early 2000s. 


In years past, she several times referred to LGBTQ  activists as “homosexual extremists,” a view that echoes that of her father, Mike Gabbard, whom a New Yorker profile of the congresswoman described as having long been “Hawaii’s leading opponent of the gay-rights movement, an energetic and often brusque activist who stood ever ready to denounce what he called ‘the radical homosexual agenda.’”

Gabbard was a visible force against same-sex marriage, and in 2004 spearheaded a fight in the state against a same-sex union measure. “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,” she said at the time. “As Democrats, we should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists.”

Gabbard then also blasted Massachusetts’ passage of same-sex marriage legislation, making it the first in the nation to recognize gay marriage. Speaking on behalf of the Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values, a group headed by her father, she said the Massachusetts marriage law would cause a ripple effect across the country. (


Taking a page from former President Obama’s playbook, Gabbard is now saying that she has evolved on the issue and since being in Congress has worked to advance LGBT interests. 

“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,” she said in a statement.

“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,” she added, noting the LGBT legislation she helped advance. “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 she may have apologized, forgiveness doesn’t seem quick to come by many on the left. 


If she does somehow survive this she'll face a long, uphill battle in convincing the left of her progressive credentials--especially in what's sure to be a crowded field. 

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