Tulsi Gabbard's Anti-LGBTQ+ Past Under Fire Amid Presidential Campaign, Congresswoman Responds to CNN Story With Statement

Hawaii Congresswoman and 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard's past is coming back to haunt her.

According to CNN, the Democrat previously worked with her father, Mike Gabbard, on Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in her home state and on the federal level, including an attempt to pass a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Gabbard announced her candidacy for the 2020 presidential election on Friday and, shortly after, critics were quick to point out her previous record against the LGBTQ+ community, including an initial report from CNN.

After CNN published the story, Gabbard issued a statement to the network, saying in part:

"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. ... 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."

Gabbard began her political career at the age of 21 when she was elected to Hawaii's state legislature. For a portion of her career, her father ran The Alliance for Traditional Marriage, a political organization that looked to protect so-called traditional marriage and opposing pro-gay lawmakers and legislation.

The group spent over $100,000 to pass a 1998 amendment to the state's constitution that would "reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples," CNN reports. The amendment passed when Gabbard was 17.

The group also believed that homosexuality was a mental illness that could be cured with conversion therapy.

Tulsi Gabbard
US representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Gabbard's support of Anti-LBGTQ+ legislation continued through 2004 when she opposed a civil unions bill.

However, in 2012 during a run for Congressional office, Gabbard apologized to the LBGTQ+ community for her previous actions.

"I want to apologize for statements that I have made in the past that have been very divisive and even disrespectful to those within the LGBT community. I know that those comments have been hurtful and I sincerely offer my apology to you and hope that you will accept it," Gabbard said.

During a visit to New Hampshire in December, Gabbard explained her change of view.

"I grew up in a very kind of conservative household. A multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-faith home. Diverse in our makeup and diverse in our views. And I held views growing up that I no longer hold," she said, adding that her experience while deployed with the National Guard further shaped her views.

"That caused me to really deeply reflect and be introspective on the values and beliefs that I had grown up with what I was experiencing there. And then coming back and eventually running for office again. And the conflict that I saw there, in standing for, believing strongly in, and fighting for these ideals of freedom and liberty that we hold dear in this country. It means that equality, that our laws, our government must apply that respect for every single individual," Gabbard said. "For people who choose to love or marry someone — whether they be of the same gender or not, that respect, and that freedom for every woman to be able to make her own choice about her body and her family and her future. So it was a process that I went through that changed my views in many ways and in many big ways to the views that I hold today."