A decade ago, Tulsi Gabbard was neither pro-gay-marriage nor pro-choice. Raised by an American Samoan-born, Catholic father and a Midwestern-raised mother who ultimately converted to Hinduism, Gabbard had strong conservative influences for the first half of her life.
Since she announced her intent to run for president late last week, liberal pundits and Democratic voters have been questioning whether they could back the congresswoman’s presidential campaign. Gabbard, who habitually uses impassioned vocabulary in her everyday political commentary, used the term, “homosexual extremists,” and it has some Democrats reeling.
Will Gabbard’s Anti-LGBTQ Statement From Her 20’s Jeopardize Her Chance At The Democratic Nomination?
That’s a good question. Consider this: When Hillary Clinton was in her late 40’s, she was unwilling to stand with the then-LGBT community on one of its biggest civil rights issues: DOMA. Yet, she won the nomination.
In October 2015, as Clinton sought the Democratic nomination for President, Clinton defended her former anti-gay marriage position to Rachel Maddow saying that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was an attempt to counter an impending constitutional amendment that would have made gay marriage unconstitutional. A Buzzfeed review of thousands of documents from the Clinton Presidential Library found absolutely zero contemporaneous evidence to support Clinton’s claim to Maddow. Again, Clinton was in her late 40’s, presumably fully realized and self-actualized and her defense resembles political whitewashing. Yet, she earned the Democratic nomination.
Gabbard’s excuse was a little more honest.
Tulsi Gabbard says that she was raised in a conservative Catholic-Hindu home. She was homeschooled. Gabbard, now in her thirties, experienced her coming of age while in public office, so voters have literally witnessed her political stances evolve as she matured. Gabbard told a writer for Ozy that her personal, religious views didn’t change that much, but her political opinions have. Gabbard finished college as a deployed Iraq war veteran, doing online schooling in a tent in the middle of the Sunni triangle. It was during that time when her political convictions changed to favor individual freedom. Gabbard states that personal growth and difficult experiences during her 20’s were what changed her political stances on both women’s reproductive rights and the issue of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.
“The contrast between our society and those in the Middle East made me realize that the difference — the reason those societies are so oppressive — is that they are essentially theocracies where the government and government leaders wield the power to both define and then enforce ‘morality,’” Gabbard wrote in 2011. “I began to realize that the positions I had held previously regarding the issues of choice and gay marriage were rooted in the same premise held by those in power in the oppressive Middle East regimes I saw.”
Watch Rep. Gabbard explain her change of political views in the video below:
Will Gabbard’s Recent Voting Record Be Enough To Convince Liberals That She Is Liberal Enough For The Nomination?
Since her complete political change of heart, Gabbard has become a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus in the House. She’s been endorsed by the largest LGBT lobby organization in the world, the Human Rights Campaign.
“From her cosponsorship of the Equality Act to supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples and fighting for persons with HIV/AIDS, we applaud Tulsi’s commitment to fundamental equal rights for all,” Mike Mings, Director of the Human Rights Campaign PAC said of Gabbard.
Gabbard has supported the following legislation in support of the LGBTQ+ community:
- H.R. 2282 Equality Act of 2017
- H.R. 1755 Employment Non-Discrimination Act
- H.R. 2839 Restore Honor to Service Members Act
- H.R 2532 Respect for Marriage Act
- H.R. 197 Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
- H.R. 683 Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act
- H.R. 1199 Safe Schools Improvement Act
- H.R. 932 Healthy Families Act
- H. Res. 549 Designating June 26th as LGBT Equality Day
- H. Res. 208 Equality for All Resolution
- H.R. 3273 LGBT Data Inclusion Act
Gabbard also sent a letter urging the President to reverse transgender military ban. Still, will her voting record be enough to convince the Democrats to nominate her despite her offensive statement from a decade ago?
Only time will tell, but the party nominated Clinton who utterly failed to take responsibility for her earlier transgressions against the LGBTQ+ community.
Which is more impressive to the Democratic Party? Taking personal responsibility following a change in political ideology or the ability to calmly pretend like you never had a change in political ideology on national television?
[Featured Photo by AFGE|Flickr]