Gabbard’s controversial positions plague early days of her presidential campaign

Updated: Jan. 14, 2019 at 7:15 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just days after saying she plans to run for president in 2020, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is already under fire for her controversial and conservative past.

Homophobic comments and efforts to ban same-sex marriage made by Gabbard more than a decade ago are resurfacing on the national stage as the 37-year-old Democrat gears up for a White House bid.

“In 2000, she blasted ‘homosexual activists,’ and those are her words, who were attacking her mother when she ran for office,” said CNN political reporter Andrew Kaczynski.

“In 2004, this is testimony against a civil unions bill, she said, ‘As Democrats, we should be representing the views of the people not a small number of homosexual extremists.’”

Kaczynski also pointed to Gabbard’s work with the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, a organization that was run by her father, state Sen. Mike Gabbard.

A 20-year-old ad featuring a teenaged Tulsi Gabbard is also circulating on news sites and social media.

"I'm not allowed to marry my daughter or my son," said Mike Gabbard in the clip.

"I can't marry my dog," said another person in the ad.

In a statement through a campaign spokeswoman, Gabbard says she regrets the positions she took in the past and says she has fought for the LGBTQ community during her time in Congress.

“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 ... I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to help work toward passing legislation that ensures equal rights and protections on LGBTQ+ issues, such as the Equality Act, the repeal of DOMA, Restore Honor to Service members Act, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Equality for All Resolution,” the statement said.

“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 it's not uncommon to see conservative Democrats evolve with their position on same-sex marriage, Hawaii News Now's political analyst Colin Moore says Gabbard's past positions may be difficult to overcome.

"Because it's such a deeply personal issue for so many people, it's tough to explain that you've evolved in your belief when you really were so vehemently opposed to it before," said Moore.

Gabbard's secret visit to Syria, and controversial meeting with Bashar al-Assad, is also being brought up again on national television.

"You should be offended by Tulsi Gabbard running for president. She's the mouthpiece for Bashar al-Assad. She went and met with him and came back and spewed his propaganda," said The View's Meghan McCain.

Moore says while Gabbard has the courage to be an independent thinker, he says she has upset people on both sides of the aisle.

On MSNBC, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono gave a lukewarm response when asked if she would support her colleague for president.

"I want someone who very much has been on the same page in terms of supporting equal opportunity, choice, all kinds of issues that I have been fighting for for decades," said Hirono.

"It sounds like you don't think Tulsi Gabbard has done that," the anchor responded.

"Well, I wish her well, though," laughed Hirono.

Gabbard is expected to be make her official announcement some time this week.

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