Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who last week announced plans to run for president, offered a videotaped apology Thursday for past statements regarding gay rights, saying her views “have changed significantly” and that she is now a champion of LGBTQ issues.
“I’m so grateful to my friends, my loved ones, both gay and straight, who have patiently helped me see how my past positions on these issues were at odds with my values, my aloha, and that they were causing people harm,” Gabbard said in a nearly four-minute recording that she distributed over social media.
As she seeks a foothold in a crowded Democratic field, Gabbard, 37, has been viewed suspiciously by many on the left because of her opposition to civil unions for same-sex couples while a state legislator in the early 2000s.
At a forum during that period, Gabbard said that Democrats “should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists.”
Gabbard also previously worked for an anti-gay-rights organization in Hawaii led by her father.
In her video, Gabbard noted that she had previously apologized for her past views.
“In my past, I said and believed things that were wrong, and worse, they were hurtful to people in the LGBTQ community and to their loved ones,” she said. “I’m deeply sorry for having said them. My views have changed significantly since then, and my record in Congress over the last six years reflects what is in my heart.”
Gabbard said she grew up in a “socially conservative household where I was raised to believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.”
And she described her father as an activist who was “fighting against gay rights and marriage equality in Hawaii,” acknowledging that “at that time I forcefully defended him and his cause.”
She said that her views had changed over the years and become her own.
Earlier this week, Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.), who is openly gay, defended Gabbard and her evolving views.
In a statement, he said that he has experienced discrimination firsthand and said those who work against equality “carry that stain and must be held accountable.”
“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,” Maloney said. “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.”