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Democratic 2020 hopeful Rep. Tulsi Gabbard apologizes for past anti-gay beliefs, blames conservative upbringing

The 37-year-old Democrat from Hawaii announced recently her plans to run for president in 2020

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) issued a lengthy apology Thursday for her past comments and activism that the LGBT community had criticized.

Gabbard, who recently announced she was seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, shared her shift on gay rights in a video on social media.

"Aloha. In my past, I said and believed things that were wrong, and worse, hurtful to people in the LGBTQ+ community and their loved ones. I'm deeply sorry for having said and believed them," Gabbard wrote on Twitter.

The 37-year-old Gabbard previously worked for an anti-LGBT organization run by her "very outspoken" father whom she had defended in the past.

What did she say?

Gabbard described her previous stance as "hurtful" and "wrong," and pointed to her conservative upbringing to explain her past beliefs.

"I grew up knowing that every person is a child of God, and equally loved by God," she said. "I have always believed in the fundamental rights and equality of all people.

"But I also grew up in a socially conservative household, where I was raised to believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman," she continued. "For a period of my life, I didn't see the contradiction in those beliefs.

"While many Americans may relate to growing up in a conservative home, my story is a little different because my father was very outspoken," Gabbard said. "He was an activist who was fighting against gay rights and marriage equality in Hawaii, and at that time, I forcefully defended him."

The congresswoman went on to say that over time her opinions have changed.

"But over the years, I formed my own opinions based on my life experience that changed my views at a personal level in having aloha, love, for all people, and ensuring that every American, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, is treated equally under the law," Gabbard continued.

What's the response from LGBTQ groups?

Some groups have been critical of Gabbard for her past actions despite her newfound beliefs.

Zeke Stokes, the vice president of programs at GLAAD, told Fox News that she was "was someone who worked so actively against our community when the stakes were so high."

"One thing is to say that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but another is to actively work to stymie the progress of a community that is marginalized, and to oppose an effort to keep kids safe," Stokes said.

One last thing…
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