Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard has apologised for her past remarks on the LGBTQ community, and said she was committed to fighting for their rights.
The 37-year-old Gabbard is the first Hindu elected to US Congress and a four-time Democratic lawmaker. She announced her White House bid last week.
Gabbard, in the past, had stood by her father who was fighting against gay rights in Hawaii.
In a video message, Gabbard apologised for the hurtful things she said about the LGBT community, saying: “Many years ago, I apologised for my words and, more importantly, for the negative impact that they had.
“I sincerely repeat my apology today. I’m deeply sorry for having said them. My views have changed significantly since then, and my record in Congress over the last six years reflects what is in my heart: A strong and ongoing commitment to fighting for LGBTQ rights.”
Dividing people based on who they are or who they love fuels the flames that perpetuate bigotry and hatred, said Gabbard LGBT people have the same rights that exist for every other American.
“I know that LGBTQ+ people still struggle, are still facing discrimination, are still facing abuse and still fear that their hard-won rights are going to be taken away by people who hold views like I used to,” she said, adding that every American deserves to be treated equally.
“I will continue to fight for LGBTQ+ people, whether they’re in school or serving in uniform, trying to get healthcare, taking care of their family, or looking for a home,” she said.
Gabbard said she grew up in a conservative household and that she was raised to believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
“While many Americans may be able to relate to growing up in a conservative home, my story is a little different because my father was very outspoken. He was an activist who was fighting against gay rights and marriage equality in Hawaii – and at that time, I forcefully defended him and his cause,” Gabbard explained.
“But over the years as I grew up, I formed my own opinions based on my life experience that significantly changed my views — at a very personal level in truly having aloha, love, for all people, and making sure that every American, regardless of sexual orientation, is treated equally under the law,” she added.