Tulsi Gabbard on Civil Rights
Although Gabbard's positions on LGBT rights have shifted dramatically in more recent years (she signed a 2013 amicus brief supporting a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act), the extent of Gabbard's past anti-gay activism has already drawn criticism from prominent Democrats and will likely be a major issue for her as she seeks the party's nomination.
In a statement to CNN provided after the initial publication of this story, Gabbard said, "First, let me say I regret the positions I took in the past, and the things I said. I'm grateful for those in the LGBTQ+ community who have shared their aloha with me throughout my personal journey."
Gabbard's father ran The Alliance for Traditional Marriage, a political action committee aimed at opposing pro-gay lawmakers and to pass an amendment in 1998 that gave the Hawaii state legislature power to "reserve marriage to opposite- sex couples." The amendment to the state's constitution passed.
Gabbard was 17 at the time of the vote and cited working with her father and the organization during her run for the state legislature in Hawaii four years later when she was age 21.
"To try to act as if there is a difference between 'civil unions' and same-sex marriage is dishonest, cowardly and extremely disrespectful to the people of Hawaii," Gabbard said at the time. "As Democrats we should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists."
The resurfaced comments drew condemnation from former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the first governor in America to support civil unions and who sought the Democratic nomination in 2004. "I was on the other side of this argument wearing a bulletproof vest while she was saying this," Dean tweeted.
Since joining Congress in 2013, Gabbard has supported efforts to promote LGBT equality, including co-sponsoring pro-LGBT legislation like The Equality Act, a bill to amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect LGBT individuals.
"I grew up in a very kind of conservative household. A multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-faith home," Gabbard said in New Hampshire in December 2018, speaking to her shift. "Diverse in our makeup and diverse in our views. And I held views growing up that I no longer hold."
Opponent's Argument for voting No (The Week; Huffington Post, and The Atlantic): House Republicans had objected to provisions in the Senate bill that extended VAWA's protections to lesbians, gays, immigrants, and Native Americans. For example, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) voted against the VAWA bill because it was a "politically–motivated, constitutionally-dubious Senate version bent on dividing women into categories by race, transgender politics and sexual preference." The objections can be grouped in two broadly ideological areas--that the law is an unnecessary overreach by the federal government, and that it represents a "feminist" attack on family values. The act's grants have encouraged states to implement "mandatory-arrest" policies, under which police responding to domestic-violence calls are required to make an arrest. These policies were intended to combat the too-common situation in which a victim is intimidated into recanting an abuse accusation. Critics also say VAWA has been subject to waste, fraud, and abuse because of insufficient oversight.
The Feminist Majority endorses candidates for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. In addition to the stronger "endorsement," the organization also determines "preferred" candidates in races where they do not endorse. Their mission statement:
"Our mission is to empower feminists, who are the majority, and to win equality for women at the decision-making tables of the state, nation, and the world. The Feminist Majority promotes non-discrimination on the basis of sex, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, ethnicity, age, marital status, nation of origin, size or disability. The purpose of Feminist Majority is to promote equality for women and men, non-violence, reproductive health, peace, social justice and economic development and to enhance feminist participation in public policy. Feminist Majority supports workers’ collective bargaining, pay equity, and end of sweatshops. We encourage programs directed at the preservation of the environment."
Project Vote Smart infers candidate issue stances on key topics by summarizing public speeches and public statements. Congressional candidates are given the opportunity to respond in detail; about 11% did so in the 2012 races.
Project Vote Smart summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: 'Marriage: Do you support same-sex marriage?'
Heritage Action Summary: The Maloney Amendment would ratify President Obama's 2014 executive order barring federal contractors from what it describes as "discrimination" on the basis of "sexual orientation and gender identity" in their private employment policies. In practice, it would have required federal contractors to grant biologically male employees who identify as women unfettered access to women's lockers, showers, and bathrooms.
Heritage Foundation recommendation to vote NO: (5/25/2016): Congress should not be elevating sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class garnering special legal privileges, which is the intent of the Maloney Amendment. The Maloney Amendment constitutes bad policy that unnecessarily regulates businesses. It risks undoing longstanding protections in civil rights law and makes clear that the president's orders are not exempt from them.
ACLU recommendation to vote YES: (5/11/2016): We see today claims to a right to discriminate--by refusing to provide services to LGBT people--based on religious objections. Claiming a right to discriminate in the name of religion is not new. In the 1960s, we saw objections to laws requiring integration in restaurants because of sincerely held beliefs that God wanted the races to be separate. We saw religiously affiliated universities refuse to admit students who engaged in interracial dating. In those cases, we recognized that requiring integration was not about violating religious liberty; it was about ensuring fairness. It's no different today.
Religious freedom in America means that we all have a right to our religious beliefs, but this does not give us the right to use our religion to impose those beliefs on others.
Legislative outcome: Amendment passed by the House 223-195-15 4/26/16; overall bill H.R.5055 failed 112-305-16 on 5/26/2016
Congressional Summary: Amends the Defense of Marriage Act to let states recognize same sex marriage. Defines "marriage" to provide that an individual shall be considered married if that individual's marriage is valid in the state or country where the marriage was entered into. Removes the definition of "spouse" (currently, a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife).
Wikipedia and GLAAD history: In United States v. Windsor (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court declared Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) struck down the act's provisions disallowing same-sex marriages to be performed under federal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court case did not challenge Section 2 of DOMA. Section 2 declares that all states have the right to deny recognition of the marriage of same sex couples that originated in states where they are legally recognized.
Heritage Foundation recommendation to vote NO: (3/20/2013): Americans respect marriage, not only as a crucial institution of civil society but the fundamental building block of all human civilization. This is why 41 states and the federal government affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman. The government isn't in the business of affirming our loves. Rather it leaves consenting adults free to live and love as they choose. And contrary to what some say, there is no ban on same-sex marriage. In all 50 states, two people of the same sex may choose to live together, and choose to join a religious community that blesses their relationship. What's at issue is whether the government will recognize such relationships as marriages--and compel others to recognize and affirm same-sex relationships as marriages.
Legislative outcome: Died in Committee (never came to a vote).
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