One week after her 2020 presidential rollout, the campaign of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, has hit a pothole.
Gabbard issued an apology Thursday for anti-gay views she expressed in the past, attributing them to her conservative upbringing.
“In my past, I said and believed things that were wrong,” said Gabbard, who represents Hawaii’s second district in the U.S. House of Representatives. “And worse, they were very hurtful to people in the LGBT community and to their loved ones.”
Saying she “grew up in a socially conservative household,” Gabbard explained in her video that she was “raised to believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman,” although she said that she has always believed that every person was created equal in God’s eyes.
“So, for a period of my life, I didn’t see the contradiction in those beliefs,” Gabbard said, explaining that she was raised by a father, Mike Gabbard, who was a legislator and Catholic activist “fighting against gay rights and marriage equality.” Gabbard gravitated toward Hinduism, her mother’s religion, as a teenager.
When she was a teenager, Gabbard also joined her father’s effort to pass a constitutional amendment in Hawaii to ban gay marriage, and when she was elected to Hawaii’s state legislature in 2001, at the age of 21, she continued that fight. In 2012, when Gabbard ran for Congress, she apologized for her anti-gay advocacy.
Her latest apology comes six days after she announced her presidential candidacy. Gabbard is not well-known nationally, and in a survey conducted in December of liberal activists, she earned only 2 percent support.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard throughout her political career
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard throughout her political career
US Democratic Representative from Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard speaks during a hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) on 'The Plight of Religious Minorities in India' on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 4, 2014. Several US lawmakers voiced concern for the future of religious minorities in India in a hearing that critics denounced as an attempt to influence upcoming elections. With polls starting April 7 in the world's largest democracy, several activists testifying before the US Congress' human rights commission expressed fear for the treatment of Muslims and Christians if Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi becomes the next prime minister, as surveys predict. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
First Hindu Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard, speaks at the unveiling ceremony of life-size statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Secaucus, NJ on May 31, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 25: Davan Gabbard (L), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (C) and Emily Tisch Sussman attend ELLE's annual Women in Washington Power List dinner hosted by Robbie Myers, ELLE Editor-in-Chief, with Gucci at Villa Firenze, the home of the Italian Ambassador, on March 25, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Elle)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) â Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington D.C., Sunday, March 10, 2013. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 13: Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, attends news conference with democratic freshmen members-elect, in the Capitol Visitor Center. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 26: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, talks with Joe Scarborough, of MSNBC, before the Congressional Women's Softball game that pits Congresswomen against female journalists at Watkins Recreation Center on Capitol Hill. The reporters prevailed in a 11-8 victory. The game benefits the Young Survival Coalition that helps young women with breast cancer. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEB. 01, 2012: Tulsi Gabbard interviewed at Roll Call in Washington D.C. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call Photos)
UNITED STATES - JULY 26: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, nominates Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark)
US Representative Tulsi Gabbard speaks during Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 26, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 25: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, greets Celestino Almeda, a veteran reprinting the Philippine Commonwealth Army, during a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in Emancipation Hall to honor Filipino veterans of World War II on October 25, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 25: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, attends a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in Emancipation Hall to honor Filipino veterans of World War II on October 25, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 06: Tulsi Gabbard speaks at Bernie Sanders 'A future to believe in San Francisco GOTV Concert' at Crissy Field San Francisco on June 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 17: Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Brian Mast, R-Fla., conduct a news conference in Rayburn Building on the Burn Pits Accountability Act, which evaluates the 'exposure of U.S. service members and veterans to open burn pits and toxic airborne chemicals,' on May 17, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 05: Abraham Williams (L) and Tulsi Gabbard attend the Sean Penn CORE Gala benefiting the organization formerly known as J/P HRO & its life-saving work across Haiti & the world at The Wiltern on January 5, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for CORE, formerly J/P HRO )
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At a time when Gabbard’s main campaign focus is to raise her profile and introduce herself to voters, the focus on her past could reduce her appeal to voters. A 2018 Gallup poll found that 83 percent of Democrats supported the legalization of gay marriage.
“My views have changed significantly since then, and my record in Congress over the last six years reflects what is in my heart,” Gabbard said in her video.