Tulsi Gabbard

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Tulsi Gabbard
Official 114th Congressional photo of Tulsi Gabbard
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 2nd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded byMazie Hirono
Member of the Honolulu City Council
from the 6th district
In office
January 2, 2011 – August 16, 2012
Preceded byRod Tam
Succeeded byCarol Fukunaga
Member of the Hawaii House of Representatives
from the 42nd district
In office
Preceded byMark Moses
Succeeded byRida Cabanilla
Personal details
Born (1981-04-12) April 12, 1981 (age 37)
Leloaloa, American Samoa, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Eduardo Tamayo
(m. 2002; div. 2006)

Abraham Williams (m. 2015)
ParentsMike Gabbard
Carol Porter
EducationHawaii Pacific University (BSBA)
WebsiteHouse website
Military service
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service2003–present
UnitHawaii Army National Guard
Battles/warsIraq War
AwardsMeritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Army Achievement Medal[1]

Tulsi Gabbard (/ˈtʌlsi ˈɡæbərd/; born April 12, 1981) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district since 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, she was a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee until February 28, 2016, when she resigned to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. Elected in 2012, she is the first Samoan-American member and the first Hindu member of the United States Congress.

Gabbard served in a field medical unit of the Hawaii Army National Guard in a combat zone in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and was later deployed to Kuwait. She previously served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 2002 to 2004. When she was elected to the Hawaii House of Representatives at age 21, Gabbard was the youngest woman to be elected to a U.S. state legislature. She supports abortion rights, Medicare for All, opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has called for a restoration of the Glass–Steagall Act, and changed her stance to support same-sex marriage in 2012. She is critical of aspects of U.S. foreign policy regarding Iraq, Libya and Syria. She opposes removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

On January 11, 2019, Gabbard announced her campaign to seek the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 2020.

Early life and education[edit]

Tulsi Gabbard was born on April 12, 1981, in Leloaloa, American Samoa,[2] the fourth of five children[3] of Carol (Porter) and Mike Gabbard. In 1983, when Gabbard was two years old, her family moved to Hawaii. Her father is a member of the Hawaii Senate.[4]

Gabbard was raised in a multicultural and multireligious household. Her father is of Samoan and European ancestry and an active lector at his Catholic church.[5] Her mother, who was born in Decatur, Indiana, is of European descent and a practicing Hindu. Tulsi chose Hinduism as her religion while she was a teenager.[6][7][8]

Gabbard was home-schooled through high school except for two years at a girls-only missionary academy in the Philippines.[9] She graduated from Hawaii Pacific University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 2009.[10][11][12]

Political career[edit]

Hawaii House of Representatives (2002–2004)[edit]


In 2002, after redistricting, Gabbard (as Gabbard Tamayo) ran to represent the 42nd House District of the Hawaii House of Representatives. She won the four-candidate Democratic primary with a plurality of 48% of the vote over Rida Cabanilla (30%), Dolfo Ramos (18%), and Gerald Vidal (4%).[13] Gabbard then defeated Republican Alfonso Jimenez in the general election, 65%–35%.[14]

In 2004, Gabbard filed for reelection, but then volunteered for Army National Guard service in Iraq. Cabanilla, who filed to run against her, called on the incumbent to resign because she would not be able to represent her district from Iraq.[15] Gabbard chose not to campaign for a second term,[16] and Cabanilla won the Democratic primary, 64%–25%.[17]


In 2002, at the age of 21, Gabbard had become the youngest legislator ever elected in Hawaii's history and the youngest woman ever elected to a U.S. state legislature.[18][19][18] She represented the Oahu 42nd District, which covers Waipahu, Honolulu, and Ewa Beach.

She played a key role, along with her Ewa colleagues, in securing funding for infrastructure on the Ewa Plains.[12]

During her tenure Gabbard strongly supported legislation to promote clean energy. She supported legislation to expand tax credits for solar and wind, improve the net energy metering program, establish renewable energy portfolio standards, reduce taxes on the sale of ethanol and biofuels, provide funding for a seawater air conditioning project and make it easier for condo/townhouse owners to get solar.[20]

Regarding the environment, Gabbard supported legislation to better protect air quality, the water supply, endangered species and avian/marine life, fight invasive species, reduce greenhouse gases, promote recycling of food waste and packaging, improve the Deposit Beverage Container Program (bottle law), and reduce illegal dumping.[20]

Gabbard previously held socially conservative positions more in line with her father, who sought for decades to pass laws against homosexuality, and who is against abortion rights. She shifted toward a more liberal stance in the early 2010s.[21]

Honolulu City Council (2011–2012)[edit]


After returning home from her second deployment to the Middle East in 2009, Gabbard ran for a seat on the Honolulu City Council.[22] Incumbent City Councilman Rod Tam, of the 6th district, decided to retire in order to run for Mayor of Honolulu. In the ten-candidate nonpartisan open primary in September 2010, Gabbard finished first with 33% of the vote.[23] In the November 2 runoff election, she defeated Sesnita Moepono, 58%–42%, to win the seat.[24]


As a councilmember, Gabbard introduced a measure to help food truck vendors by loosening parking restrictions.[25] She also introduced Bill 54, a measure that authorized city workers to confiscate personal belongings stored on public property with 24 hours' notice to its owner.[26][27] After overcoming opposition from the ACLU[28] and Occupy Hawai'i,[29] Bill 54 passed and became City Ordinance 1129.

On April 30, 2011, Gabbard informed her constituents that she was resuming the use of her birth name, Tulsi Gabbard, and that there would be no cost to city taxpayers for reprinting City Council materials containing her name.[30] She resigned from the council on August 16, 2012, to focus on her congressional campaign.[31]

United States House of Representatives (2013–present)[edit]


Gabbard in January 2012

In early 2011, Mazie Hirono, the incumbent Congresswoman in Hawaii's second congressional district, announced that she would run for a U.S. Senate seat. Soon after that, in May 2011, Gabbard announced her candidacy for the House seat.[32] She was endorsed by the Sierra Club,[33] Emily's List,[34] and VoteVets.org.[35] The Democratic Mayor of Honolulu, Mufi Hannemann, was the best-known candidate in the six-way primary, but Gabbard won with 62,882 votes or 55% of the total; Hannemann finished second and took 39,176 votes or 34%. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser described her win as an "improbable rise from a distant underdog to victory."[36] Gabbard resigned from the City Council on August 16 to prevent the cost of holding a special election.[37][38]

As the Democratic nominee, Gabbard traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, and spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.[39] She credited grassroots support as the reason for her come-from-behind win in the primary.[40] Gabbard won the general election on November 6, 2012, defeating Republican Kawika Crowley, by approximately 130,000 votes, or 168,503 to 40,707 votes (80.6%−19.4%).[41]


In December 2012, Gabbard applied to be considered for appointment to the Senate seat vacated by the death of Daniel Inouye,[42] but despite support from prominent mainland Democrats,[43][44] she was not among the three candidates selected by the Democratic Party of Hawaii.[45]

Gabbard was reelected on November 8, 2014, defeating Crowley again, by roughly 110,000 votes, or 142,010 to 33,630 votes (78.7%–18.6%); Joe Kent garnered 4,693 votes (2.6%) as an independent Libertarian.


Gabbard was reelected on November 8, 2016, defeating her Republican opponent, Angela Kaaihue, by about 130,000 votes, or 170,848 to 39,668 votes (81.2%–18.8%).[46]


Gabbard was reelected in 2018.[47] She defeated her Republican opponent, Brian Evans, by around 110,000 votes, or 153,271 to 44,850 votes (77.4%–22.6%).


Gabbard is the first Samoan American member of the United States Congress[48] and the first Hindu member of the United States Congress.[49][50]

Gabbard speaks at the 135th National Guard Association of the United States conference in 2013

In her first term, Gabbard introduced the Helping Heroes Fly Act, which passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. This measure seeks to improve airport security screenings for severely wounded veterans, and was signed into law by the president.[51][52][53] She also led an effort to pass legislation to assist victims of military sexual trauma.[54][55][56]


Along with Senator Hirono, Gabbard introduced the Filipino Veterans of WWII Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 to award Filipino and Filipino American veterans who fought in World War II the Congressional Gold Medal.[57] The bill passed both the Senate and the House, in July and November 2016, respectively,[58] and was signed by President Obama on December 15, 2016.[59]

Gabbard also introduced Talia's Law, to prevent child abuse and neglect on military bases. It passed the House and Senate and was signed by President Obama on December 23, 2016.[60][61][62]


In the first session of the 115th Congress on January 4, 2017, Gabbard introduced bill H.R. 258 to prohibit the use of United States Government funds to provide assistance to Al Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and to countries supporting those organizations directly or indirectly.[63][64][65] Announcing the legislation, she said: "If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL ... and other terrorist groups with money, weapons and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government."[66] The Washington Post has said her assertions about such US government funding and other kinds of support are false, but the claims are associated with the Assad government.[67]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus membership[edit]

Democratic National Committee[edit]

Gabbard, a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, was critical of the decision by DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to hold only six debates during the 2016 Democratic Party primary season, compared with 26 in 2008 and 15 in 2004.[74][75] Some have argued that the number of debates was intentionally limited in order to bolster Hillary Clinton's position as the Democratic front-runner, citing Wasserman Schultz's previous position as co-chair of Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign as a conflict of interest and a newly created penalty barring further participation in sanctioned debates for any candidate who participates in an unsanctioned debate as an effort to limit public exposure to other candidates.[75][76] Gabbard appeared on multiple news outlets to express her dissatisfaction with the number of debates. Following her public criticisms, she claimed she was uninvited from attending the Democratic debate in Las Vegas as a result. In a telephone interview with The New York Times, Gabbard stated, "It's very dangerous when we have people in positions of leadership who use their power to try to quiet those who disagree with them. When I signed up to be vice-chair of the DNC, no one told me I would be relinquishing my freedom of speech and checking it at the door."[77]

Gabbard resigned as DNC Vice Chair on February 28, 2016, in order to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination.[78][79] She was the first female U.S. Representative to endorse Sanders.[80] At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Gabbard gave the nominating speech putting his name forward.[81] Furthermore, in July 2016, Gabbard launched a petition to end the Democratic Party's process of appointing superdelegates in the nomination process.[82] She endorsed Keith Ellison for DNC chair in the DNC 2017 chairmanship elections.[83]

Syria trip[edit]

In January 2017, Gabbard met with President Bashar al-Assad during a trip to Syria.[84][85] Gabbard said in a press release that the trip was approved by the House Ethics Committee and sponsored by Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services (AACCESS-Ohio).[86] The chairman of AACCESS, Bassem Khawam, accompanied Gabbard on the trip, as did Elie Khawam.[87]

Gabbard "reportedly declined to inform House leadership in advance, met with Bashar al-Assad, toured with officials from a Lebanese political party that actively supports Assad, and received funding from an American organization that counts one of those same officials as its executive director."[88] She later paid for the trip with her own money.[89] On February 7, 2017, it was reported that Gabbard failed to comply with House ethics rules, as she had not filed the required disclosure forms by the deadline, but according to her office she complied with House ethics rules by filing her post-trip financial report by the deadline.[89][90] Remaining forms and her itinerary were submitted on February 8, 2017.[91]

2020 presidential campaign[edit]

Tulsi Gabbard 2020 presidential campaign logo

In 2016, New Yorker editor Amy Davidson and Boston Globe reporter James Pindell described Gabbard as a potential 2020 presidential candidate.[92][93] On October 19, 2018, Politico reported that she was "weighing a 2020 presidential bid" but would not make an announcement until after the 2018 midterm elections.[94] On December 12, 2018, on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, Gabbard said she was "seriously considering" running for president in 2020.[95] In a January 11, 2019 interview with CNN's Van Jones on The Van Jones Show, she confirmed her intention to seek the Democratic presidential nomination and said she would officially announce "within the next week."[96]

Military service (2003–present)[edit]

Gabbard at the ceremony of her promotion to major on October 12, 2015

In April 2003, while serving in the State Legislature, Gabbard enlisted in the Hawaii Army National Guard.[97]

In July 2004, Gabbard asked to deploy with her Hawaii Army National Guard unit, volunteering for a 12-month tour in Iraq, where she served in a field medical unit as a specialist in a combat zone with the 29th Support Battalion medical company.[98][99] She learned that she would not be able to serve with her unit and perform her duties as a legislator, and thus chose not to campaign for a second term in office.[16][100] Gabbard served at Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Iraq.[101] While on a rest-and-relaxation tour in August 2005, she presented Hawaii's condolences to the government of London regarding the 7/7 London bombings.[99]

Upon her return from Iraq in 2006, Gabbard began serving as a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka in Washington, DC.[102] She was responsible for issues involving veteran affairs, energy and natural resources, judiciary, and homeland security. She served as a surrogate speaker for Akaka on many occasions, and built a grassroots network with the veteran community in Hawaii.[citation needed]

In March 2007, while working for Akaka, Gabbard graduated from the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy.[103] She was the first woman to finish as the distinguished honor graduate in the Academy's 50-year history.[18][102] She was commissioned as a second lieutenant and assigned again to the 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion of the Hawaii Army National Guard, this time to serve as an Army Military Police officer.[104]

Gabbard continued to work for Akaka until she again voluntarily deployed with her unit to the Middle East.[citation needed] She was deployed to Kuwait.[105][106]

In May 2010, Gabbard was one of thirty finalists for a White House Fellowship[107] and one of three finalists from Hawaii,[108] but was not selected as a fellow.[109]

In June 2011, Gabbard visited Indonesia[110] as part of a peacekeeping training with the Indonesian Army.[111]

On October 12, 2015, Captain Gabbard was promoted to major at a ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Akaka administered the oath of office to the new major.[112][113] She continues to serve as a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard.[114]

On August 7, 2018, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that the Hawaii Army National Guard had instructed Gabbard that a video of her in uniform on her VoteTulsi Facebook page did not comply with military ethics rules. Gabbard's campaign removed the video and added a disclaimer to the website's banner image of Gabbard in uniform in a veterans' cemetery that the image does not imply an endorsement from the military. A similar situation had happened during a previous Gabbard congressional campaign. A spokeswoman for Gabbard said the campaign would work closely with the Department of Defense to ensure compliance with all regulations.[115]

Nonprofit organizations and associations[edit]

Gabbard co-founded Healthy Hawaiʻi Coalition, an environmental educational group of which she is vice president and educational programs coordinator.[33][116] She is a lifetime member of the National Guard Association of the United States and the Military Police Regimental Association.[citation needed]

Gabbard was also a cofounder of the non-profit Stand Up For America (SUFA),[117] which she and her father co-founded in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.[118] SUFA's website profiled Gabbard[119] and hosted letters from her sent during her deployments overseas.[120][121] In September 2010, SUFA's website came under criticism for promoting Gabbard's campaign for the Honolulu City Council. Gabbard said the improper addition "was an honest mistake from a volunteer," and the problematic page and link were immediately removed.[117]

Gabbard has links with Hindu nationalists and organizations such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America and the Hindu American Foundation.[122]

Political positions[edit]

Gabbard speaking at a luncheon in February 2013.


Trans-Pacific Partnership[edit]

Gabbard strongly opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and led protests against it.[123] A member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, she was highly critical of both the deal itself and the secrecy surrounding the negotiations, arguing that it would largely benefit multinational corporations at the expense of American workers while actively contributing to existing threats to the environment, such as global warming and pollution. Gabbard said, "The TPP agreement will benefit Wall Street banks and multinational corporations on the backs of hard-working Americans, and it will increase existing threats to our environment...If it contains the same noxious provisions we suspected it would, I will do all I can to defeat the TPP when it comes before Congress for a final up-or-down vote."[124]

Glass-Steagall Act[edit]

Gabbard supports the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act and has tweeted, “It’s time to bring back the Glass-Steagall Act. Big banks should not be allowed to gamble with your life savings & your kid’s college fund”.[125] Gabbard argued in a piece for the Huffington Post that if the act had not been repealed, the financial crisis the United States was facing might never have occurred.[126]

Minimum wage[edit]

Gabbard supports increasing the hourly minimum wage to $15.[127]

Foreign policy[edit]


Gabbard supports a strong US-India relationship. She has repeatedly praised Indian prime minister Narendra Modi,[128][129] describing him as "a person who cares deeply about these issues [defense, renewable energy, bilateral trade, and global environmental concerns] and as a leader whose example and dedication to the people he serves should be an inspiration to elected officials everywhere."[128] She has said that the U.S. decision to deny a visa to Modi over allegations of his involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots was a "great blunder", on the grounds that it could have undermined the US-India relationship had he used it as an excuse to reject a strong relationship with America.[128] She also criticized the arrest of Indian consular officer Devyani Khobragade on charges of visa fraud and perjury.[129] In 2013, she joined some of her colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee in opposing a resolution in the House of Representatives that called for "religious freedom and related human rights to be included in the United States-India Strategic Dialogue and for such issues to be raised directly with federal and state Indian government officials", saying it would weaken the friendship between India and US, citing the timing of the bill as interfering in India's elections, while emphasizing the need for US to stand for religious freedom.[130][128][131]


Gabbard voted in favor of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an agreement with Iran which imposed restraints on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.[132]

Iraq and Afghanistan[edit]

Gabbard opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[133][better source needed] She believes that the United States' victory conditions in Iraq were not clearly defined.[134]


In October 2016, she criticized elements within the Pakistani government, saying, "People within the Pakistani government continue to provide tacit and overt support for terrorism. This is not new; this pattern of attacks has been occurring now for the past 15 years, and it must end. That's why I've continued working in Congress to cut back US assistance for Pakistan and increase pressure on Pakistan to stop this violence. In the past, the US government took steps to increase pressure on Pakistan, and it's time to revisit that approach." She expressed "solidarity with India in the face of these attacks" (referring to the 2016 Uri attack).[135]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Gabbard strongly opposed a $1.15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, saying, "Saudi Arabia continues to spend billions of dollars funding the spread of the Wahhabi Salafist ideology that fuels groups like ISIS, al Qaeda and other jihadist groups around the world. The U.S. must stop arming Saudi Arabia, stop fueling this fire and hold Saudi Arabia accountable for their actions."[136][137]

In response to President Trump's position on the Saudi government's assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, Gabbard tweeted that "being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not 'America First.'"[138]


Gabbard opposes the US removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.[139] She has cited US "regime-change" involvement in Syria as a source of the Syrian refugee crisis.[140]

In 2013 Gabbard opposed the Obama administration's proposed military strikes in Syria, arguing that intervention in Syria would go against America's national security, international credibility, economic interest, and moral center.[141] She later introduced legislation to block U.S. military action against Assad.[142] She has described US involvement in the Syrian Civil War as "our counterproductive regime-change war", and said that it is this "regime-change war that is causing people to flee their country".[140]

Gabbard was one of three members of Congress to vote against House resolution 121, which condemned the government of Syria and "other parties to the conflict" for war crimes and crimes against humanity,"[143] saying that though Assad is a "brutal dictator," the resolution was "a War Bill—a thinly veiled attempt to use the rationale of 'humanitarianism' as a justification for overthrowing the Syrian government". She explained that the resolution "urges the administration to create 'additional mechanisms for the protection of civilians', which is coded language for the creation of a so-called no-fly/safe zone." Gabbard has rejected suggestions for the creation of a no-fly zone in Syria, stating that it would cost "billions of dollars, require tens of thousands of ground troops and a massive U.S. air presence, and it won't work", and that such a move would risk confrontation with Russia.[144][145]

In November 2016 she met with United States president-elect Donald Trump to enlist his support to stop the United States' alleged "illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government".[146]

In January 2017, Gabbard obtained prior authorization from the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct[][147] for "fact-finding" mission to Damascus and met with diverse civil society groups as well as government officials, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.[148][149] In April 2017, after the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack killed at least 74 civilians and injured hundreds more, she called for a UN investigation into the attack and the prosecution of Bashar al-Assad in the International Criminal Court if he is found to be responsible.[150][151] After President Trump ordered the 2017 Shayrat missile strike targeting the Syrian airfield believed to be the source of the attack, Gabbard called the strike reckless and expressed skepticism that Assad was responsible for the attack, which led to sharp criticism from former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean as well as Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden.[152][153]


Gabbard has opposed US involvement in regime change, calling it counterproductive to defeating ISIL, al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.[154][155] She criticized the Obama Administration for "refusing" to say that "Islamic extremists" are waging a war against the United States.[156]

Conflicted on torture

In an NDTV India interview during a 2014 trip to India, Gabbard said that, "very bluntly," she was "conflicted" about the use of torture in interrogations: "I can also understand that any of us, if we were in a situation where our family, our community, our state, or our country is in a place where, let's say, in an hour, a nuclear bomb or an attack will go off unless this information was found, I believe that if I were the president of the United States that I would do everything in my power to keep the American people safe."[157]


In her 2012 run for Congress, Gabbard received the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter's endorsement in the Democratic primary election.[158] The Sierra Club endorsed her for her reelection in 2014, citing her as a champion of Hawaiian families' health, air, food and water and a clear leader on environmental issues.[159]

Gabbard cited environmental impact as a reason she opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership.[160]

In December 2016, Gabbard, along with approximately 2,000 U.S. military veterans dubbed "The Veterans Stand for Standing Rock," traveled to North Dakota to join the protests against the construction of the final leg of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Indian Reservations. Opponents of the pipeline argue that its construction would threaten the water supply and quality in the region. Her visit came days before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would not grant the easement for construction of the pipeline to allow exploration for alternate routes.[161][162]

In September 2017, Gabbard introduced the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act (HR3671), the first House legislation to transition the United States to 100% clean renewable energy by 2035.[163] The bill also includes provisions to stop new major fossil fuel projects, and to support workers displaced by job losses in the fossil fuel industry through the creation of an equitable transition fund and the Center for Clean Energy Work Force Development. As of January 2019, the legislation had 46 cosponsors in the House, making it the most supported climate legislation in Congress.

Social issues and civil rights[edit]

Abortion and birth control[edit]

Gabbard holds two 100% lifetime ratings from both The Planned Parenthood action fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America indicating a strong pro-choice stance.[164] She was anti-abortion earlier in her career but her position has since changed.[165][166]


Gabbard supports "very limited use of drones in those situations where our military is not able to get in without creating an unacceptable level of risk" against ISIS and Al Qaeda.[167]

In 2013, Gabbard stated: "I applaud the [Obama] Administration for clarifying that drone strikes on non-combatant American citizens on U.S. soil are not and will not be authorized. I understand firsthand the value of using counter-terrorism warfare tactics and strategies overseas in dealing with 21st century threats. But these tactics should never be used against our own citizens here at home. Just as U.S. law enforcement strategies do not apply in war with a foreign enemy, drone strikes and other counter-terrorism tactics should not be targeting non-combatant U.S. citizens."[168][169]

LGBT issues[edit]

Gabbard previously opposed both civil unions and same-sex marriage.[170][21] In the early 2000s, Gabbard worked with her father Mike Gabbard "to pass a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage". She worked with The Alliance for Traditional Marriage, a political action committee (PAC) run by her father that opposed pro-LGBT lawmakers and laws, and promoted conversion therapy. Her father was also involved with other anti-LGBT organizations including National Campaign to Protect Marriage, Save Traditional Marriage, and Stop Promoting Homosexuality.[171][172] In a September 2002 interview with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, she said, "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."[173][174]

In 2000, Gabbard defended her mother, who was running for office, against critics, saying, “This war of deception and hatred against my mum is being waged by homosexual activists because they know, that if elected, she will not allow them to force their values down the throats of the children in our schools.”[175]

As a Hawaii state legislator in 2004, Gabbard argued against civil unions, saying, "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 who have already made overwhelmingly clear our position on this issue... As Democrats we should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists."[21] She opposed Hawaii House Bill 1024, which would have established legal parity between same-sex couples in civil unions and married straight couples, and led a protest against the bill outside the room where the House Judiciary Committee held the hearing.[176] The same year, she expressed her opposition to Hawaii undertaking research on LGBT students, arguing that it would be a violation of their privacy and that "many parents would see the study as an indirect attempt by government to encourage young people to question their sexual orientation".[177] She also disputed that Hawaii schools were rampant with anti-gay discrimination.[177]

In 2012, Gabbard said that she believed same-sex marriage should be legalized throughout the United States.[178] She credited her tours of duty in the Middle East for her change in views.[21][179] Her subsequent support of LGBTQ issues included co-sponsoring The Equality Act. The Human Rights Campaign gave her a score of 100 for her votes during the 115th Congress, with scores of 88 and 92 for the previous two sessions, respectively[180]. She has opposed both the Defense of Marriage Act and a proposed state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a woman and a man.[181] She cosponsored the Respect for Marriage Act after her election to Congress,[182] as she had promised to do during her campaign.[183] Gabbard also asked Hawaii state legislators "to pass legislation that will ensure fair and equal treatment for all of Hawaii's citizens".[182] In June 2015, she issued a statement supporting Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, arguing that the United States was not a theocracy.[184][185][186]

In January 2019, after launching her presidential campaign, Gabbard issued a public apology for her past anti-LGBT positions and statements, saying that her views had changed and that she had since supported or sponsored gay rights legislation.[187]


Gabbard has introduced legislation to take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list as part of her criminal justice reform efforts.[188]

Native Hawaiians as indigenous people[edit]

Gabbard says that "Native Hawaiians, as a people, should be empowered to determine their own future and what kind of relationship they choose to have with the U.S. federal government",[189] and supports Native Hawaiian health and education initiatives.[190]

Religious freedom[edit]

Gabbard strongly opposed using the fact that Brian C. Buescher is a communicant of the Roman Catholic Church and member of the Knights of Columbus to disqualify his nomination to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska,[191] saying that it is "imperative that we stand united in our commitment to protect religious freedom".[191]

Trump administration[edit]

On November 21, 2016, Gabbard became the second Democrat (after Michelle Rhee) to meet with President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team at Trump Tower.[192] She described the meeting as "frank and positive" and said she accepted the meeting to influence Trump before Republicans grew in influence and escalated the war to overthrow the Syrian government.[193] She later called the Trump administration's 2017 Shayrat missile strike reckless and "short-sighted."[150]

Gabbard spoke against Trump's executive order banning refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries, saying that thorough vetting was sufficient.[194] She joined 20 Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee urging Representative Ed Royce to call Michael Flynn to testify before them to investigate his and Trump's ties to Russia and whether American national security and intelligence operations have been compromised.[195]

Gabbard did not join the 169 congressional Democrats who signed a letter of opposition to Stephen Bannon's appointment as Trump's chief strategist,[196][197] but she cosponsored a bill to remove Bannon from the National Security Council.[198][199][200] Bannon has described himself as a "big fan" of Gabbard;[201] according to one source, "He loves Tulsi Gabbard," and another source said that he "wants to work with her on everything."[202]

Foreign policy[edit]

Gabbard criticized the 2017 United States–Saudi Arabia arms deal, saying, "Saudi Arabia is a country with a devastating record of human rights violations at home and abroad and has a long history of providing support to terrorist organizations that threaten the American people".[203][204] In November 2018, after Trump indicated the US would not sanction Saudi Arabia over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, Gabbard tweeted at Trump, "being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not 'America First.'"[205]

Personal life[edit]

Gabbard's first name, "Tulsi" comes from the Sanskrit Tulasi (Sanskrit: तुलसी, IAST: Tulasī; commonly Tulsī), also known as the holy basil, a plant sacred in Hinduism. During her childhood, Tulsi excelled in martial arts, and was interested in gardening. She is known to be a surfer and an accomplished athlete.[206] She is a vegetarian and a Hindu who follows Gaudiya Vaishnavism,[9] a religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Her siblings have Hindu or Indian origin names Bhakti, Jai, Narayan, and Vrindavan.[7] She especially appreciates the Bhagavad Gita as a spiritual guide,[207] and used it when she was ceremonially sworn in as a Representative.[208] Gabbard describes herself as a "karma yogi"[209] and credits her parents with instilling the value of "karma yoga" and being of service in her and her siblings.[104]

Gabbard has said that she is pleased that her election gives hope to young American Hindus who "can be open about their faith, and even run for office, without fear of being discriminated against or attacked because of their religion".[210] In 2002, Gabbard was a martial arts instructor.[211]

Gabbard was married to Eduardo Tamayo in 2002;[30][212] they divorced on June 5, 2006.[213] She cites "the stresses war places on military spouses and families" as a reason for their divorce.[21]

In February 2015, Gabbard got engaged to freelance cinematographer and editor Abraham Williams, and the two married on April 9, 2015, in a Vedic-style wedding.[214]

Awards and honors[edit]

On November 25, 2013, Gabbard received the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award at a ceremony at the Institute of Politics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government for her efforts on behalf of veterans.[215]

On March 26, 2014, Elle honored Gabbard, with others, at the Italian Embassy in the United States during its annual "Women in Washington Power List".[216]

On February 10, 2015, Voices for National Service honored Gabbard with the Outstanding New Member Award for elevating national service as a first-term legislative priority.[217]

On February 25, 2015, the National Association of Counties (NACo) awarded Gabbard the 2015 NACo County Alumni Award for her "steadfast commitment to the nation's counties".[218]

On July 15, 2015, Gabbard received the Friend of the National Parks Award from the National Parks Conservation Association.[219]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mazie Hirono
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 2nd congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Lois Frankel
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Denny Heck