HONOLULU (AP) — Presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on Thursday responded to criticism about her past work advocating against gay rights by apologizing in a video.
The nearly four-minute-long clip, which was shot in her Washington, D.C. backyard, shows Gabbard standing in the snow saying that her views have changed significantly since she made statements that were hurtful to LGBTQ people.
The Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii has apologized for such statements before. But she has come under renewed criticism since she announced during a CNN interview last week that she would run for president.
Gabbard, 37, campaigned against same-sex marriage with the group Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values when she was a state representative in her 20s. Gabbard’s father, who is now a state senator and was a Honolulu City Councilman, founded the organization to lobby against same-sex marriage.
Gabbard explained in the video that she grew up in a socially conservative household and was raised to believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. But she said she has since formed her own opinions from her life experiences.
“When we deny LGBTQ people the basic rights that exist for every American, we are denying their humanity — denying that they are equal. We are also creating a dangerous environment that breeds discrimination and violence,” she said.
Gabbard added she knows LGBTQ people still face discrimination and fear their rights will be taken away “by people who hold views like I used to.”
In 2011, as she prepared to run for Congress the first time, Gabbard said she changed her views on gay marriage after deploying to Iraq and Kuwait with the Hawaii National Guard.
She said serving in the Middle East showed her that former positions were rooted in the mistaken idea that it’s the government’s role to “define and enforce our personal morality.”