Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who announced Friday that she will seek the Democratic party nomination for president in 2020, has already received criticism for her past work for an anti-LGBTQ organization run by her father and for speaking out against a civil union bill during her time in the Hawaii state legislature.
CNN’s KFile reported late Sunday that the congresswoman cited her work “backing traditional marriage” during her run for the Hawaii legislature in 2002.
“Working with my father, Mike Gabbard, and others to pass a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage, I learned that real leaders are willing to make personal sacrifices for the common good,” she told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin at the time. “I will bring that attitude of public service to the legislature.”
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The network also reported that Gabbard worked for her father’s organization, the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, which spent money to oppose pro-gay lawmakers and backed a successful 1998 amendment that reserved marriage for opposite-sex couples. The anti-gay organization also promoted gay conversion therapy.
Gabbard continued to oppose the expansion of LGBTQ rights during her time in the state legislature, reports CNN.
In 2004, Gabbard testified in opposition to a civil union bill, saying that Democrats “should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists.”
In a statement to CNN, Gabbard said she regrets her old views on gay marriage and touted her legislative record supporting LGBT rights.
“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.
“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, listing six bills pertaining to gay rights. “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.”