The 2020 Democratic presidential primary is already beginning to take shape, and the candidates who have stepped into the ring are jostling to prove their credentials. Part of this process means addressing issues from the past — which is exactly what one of Hawaii's Democratic congresswomen has been doing. Tulsi Gabbard apologized for her past anti-LGBTQ beliefs in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday, marking the second time she's discussed it head on since launching her campaign.
"In my past, I said and believed things that were wrong — and worse, hurtful to people in the LGBTQ+ community and their loved ones. I’m deeply sorry for having said and believed them," Gabbard posted to Twitter, along with a link to a YouTube video of herself giving a much longer statement.
"I know that LGBTQ people still struggle, are still facing discrimination, still facing abuse, and still fear that hard-won rights are going to be taken away, by people who hold views like I used to," Gabbard said in the video. "That cannot happen, because every American deserves to be treated equally, by their fellow Americans and under the law."
This isn't the first time Gabbard has apologized for her previous stance on LGBTQ rights, either.
Soon after she announced her candidacy earlier in January, CNN reported that Gabbard had worked for her father's anti-LGBTQ PAC, the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, as well as promoted her association with the PAC. In 1998, the organization helped to pass an amendment to the Hawaii state Constitution to "reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples," as CNN reported. In response to that report, Gabbard issued a statement apologizing for her former beliefs and actions.
"I regret the positions I took in the past, and the things I said," Gabbard said in the statement to CNN. "I'm grateful for those in the LGBTQ+ community who have shared their aloha with me throughout my personal journey."
While Gabbard publicly advocated against civil unions in 2004, as the Honolulu Star Bulletin reported at the time, her beliefs had evidently shifted by 2012, when she made her first foray into national politics. At that time, she apologized "for statements that [she had] made in the past that have been very divisive and even disrespectful to those within the LGBT community," according to CNN.
Gabbard's latest video, however, goes beyond her previous apologies for past comments to apologize for the beliefs that she held and her work with her father's PAC. She also committed to working on behalf of LGBTQ rights.
"I will continue to fight for LGBTQ people, whether they're in school, serving in uniform, trying to get health care, taking care of their family, or looking for a home," she said in the video.
She also briefly described her journey from her past beliefs to the beliefs she holds now, saying that it took her own loved ones pointing out the problems in her convictions before she began questioning them.
"I look forward to being able to share more of my story and my experiences growing up," Gabbard said. "Not as an excuse, but in the hopes that it may inspire others to truly live aloha — to love and care for others."