Skeletons in the closet

2020 hopeful Tulsi Gabbard says she’s really, really sorry for her long history of homophobia

Karma is cashing in her receipts against Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

Just days after announcing her 2020 Presidential bid, Gabbard has issued an apology for homophobic statements and antigay advocacy work done in her past.

The Hawaiian Democrat, who announced her presidential run January 11, told CNN she regrets her past positions opposing queer equality.

“First, let me say I regret the positions I took in the past, and the things I said,” she said. “I’m grateful for those in the LGBTQ+ community who have shared their aloha with me throughout my personal journey.”

Gabbard becomes the latest figure in the public eye to face criticism for past homophobia. Yet unlike celebrities like Kevin Hart, Gabbard’s onus goes far beyond just tweets.

Prior to beginning her political career, Gabbard worked for the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, an antigay PAC run by her father, Mike Gabbard.

The Alliance worked to pass an amendment banning marriage equality at the state level. It also promoted conversion therapy, claiming in official documents that “there is no such thing as a homosexual.”

After getting into politics in 2002, Gabbard won a seat in the Hawaiian House of Representatives. Upon her victory, she told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin “working with my father, Mike Gabbard, and others to pass a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage, I learned that real leaders are willing to make personal sacrifices for the common good. I will bring that attitude of public service to the legislature.”

Around that same time, she also claimed that “homosexual activists” had attacked her mother during a run for the state board of education.

In 2004, Gabbard also spoke out against both marriage equality and civil unions. She also claimed that no anti-queer discrimination occurs in Hawaiian public schools.

But in 2012, she changed her tune.

Gabbard endorsed nationwide marriage equality and claimed that her military service had helped her antigay positions evolve. Around that same time, she first apologized for her past views.

Nevertheless, in light of her presidential announcement, Gabbard’s past antigay comments and positions have again come under fire.

With other leading supporters of LGBTQ equality like Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden rumored to or already announced their own White House bids, it’s likely Gabbard’s past positions will continue to stifle her campaign.

Related: Anti-Gay Gabbard Switches Teams