Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on Thursday released a lengthy apology for her past activism and comments against gay marriage, saying her views have “changed significantly” since her outspoken protests of the early 2000s.
“In my past, I said and believed things that were wrong, and worse, hurtful to people in the LGBTQ+ community and their loved ones,” Gabbard tweeted, along with a video. “I’m deeply sorry for having said and believed them.”
In years past, Gabbard referred to gay activists as “homosexual extremists.” Her father, Mike Gabbard, was known at the time as Hawaii’s leading opponent of the gay-rights movement. Gabbard herself was a visible force against same-sex marriage, and in 2004 spearheaded a fight in the state against a same-sex union measure.
“To try to act as if there is a difference between ‘civil unions’ and same-sex marriage is dishonest, cowardly and extremely disrespectful to the people of Hawaii,” she said at the time. “As Democrats, we should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists.”
Gabbard also blasted Massachusetts’ passage of same-sex marriage legislation, making it the first in the nation to recognize gay marriage. Speaking on behalf of the Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values, a group headed by her father, she said the Massachusetts marriage law would cause a ripple effect across the country.
“It is highly likely that federal judges will soon be tearing apart our U.S. Constitution in order to force same-sex marriage down the throats of the people of Hawaii and America,” Gabbard said. “The only way to protect traditional marriage in Hawaii and throughout our country, the only way to stop activist federal judges from rewriting our constitution, is by the passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment.”
Gabbard also once gave a lengthy speech at the Hawaii State House against a proposed resolution that addressed the bullying of gay students in public schools. Gabbard argued the resolution would cast homosexuality as normal, and that it would attract “homosexual-advocacy organizations into our schools to promote their agenda to our vulnerable youth.”
On Thursday, Gabbard said her “views have changed significantly since then, and my record in Congress over the last 6 years reflects what is in my heart: A strong and ongoing commitment to fighting for LGBTQ+ rights.”
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. For a period of my life I didn’t see the contradiction in those beliefs.”
“While many Americans may relate to growing up in a conservative home, my story is a little different because my father was very outspoken,” Gabbard said. “He was an activist who was fighting against gay rights and marriage equality in Hawaii – and at that time, I forcefully defended him.”
Gay rights groups have criticized Gabbard for her past activism, with Zeke Stokes, the vice president of programs at GLAAD, telling Fox News she was “was someone who worked so actively against our community when the stakes were so high.”
“One thing is to say that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but another is to actively work to stymie the progress of a community that is marginalized, and to oppose an effort to keep kids safe,” Stokes said.
Fox News’ Elizabeth Llorente contributed to this report.