Tulsi Gabbard, 2020 candidate with anti-LGBTQ past, joins Biden, Booker, Williamson for LGBTQ forum; Buttigieg still a maybe
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is the latest name to join a list of candidates in a 2020 presidential forum to talk about LGBTQ issues, the Daily News has learned.
The Presidential Candidate Forum on LGBTQ Issues — organized by a partnership among GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, One Iowa, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, and the publications The Gazette and The Advocate ? will take place at Coe College’s Sinclair Auditorium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Sept. 20.
Gabbard, the latest addition to the panel, will share the stage with former Vice President Joe Biden; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro; New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker; former two-term congressman from Pennsylvania Joe Sestak; and author Marianne Williamson.
Notably absent from the “confirmed” list are the only openly gay candidate of the cycle, South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, former congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas, and senators Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
The Daily News has reached out to their campaigns, but has yet to receive an answer.
Gabbard’s presence in the forum, however, is especially noteworthy given her rocky anti-LGBTQ past.
Ever since the congresswoman from Hawaii announced that she would seek the Democratic party’s nomination for president in next year’s elections, she has had to repeatedly apologize for her less-than-stellar positions ? and well-documented statements ? on LGBTQ rights.
During a run for the Hawaii state legislature in 2002, Gabbard touted working for The Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values, a political action committee that opposed same-sex marriage. The organization, which was run by her father Mike Gabbard, called homosexual behavior “unhealthy, abnormal behavior that should not be promoted or accepted in society."
Those, of course, were Gabbard’s ideas from a distant past, which she claims she no longer believes.
Since then, she has repeatedly said that her position has dramatically changed, saying that she regrets “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," as she once told CNN.
“Congresswoman Gabbard has a unique story among the 2020 Democrats running for President as someone who has evolved to a place of support for LGBTQ people and policies that advance equality," Zeke Stokes, GLAAD’s chief programs officer, told the Daily News. "Many Iowans ? and indeed many Americans ? have taken that journey themselves, and we look forward to hearing more about her road to acceptance and what she would do as President to reverse the travesty of the Trump record on LGBTQ equality.”
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. https://t.co/BWlOBk9ZnN
The forum was organized to fill in the void of an effective conversation on LGBTQ issues, a topic that has so far been conspicuously absent of the national debate leading up to the next year’s election. An absence that is even more pronounced as the country gets ready to find a viable candidate to replace what has arguably been the most anti-LGBTQ administration in modern American history.
"LGBTQ issues and the LGBTQ community have been largely left out of the 2020 presidential primary conversation so far, and this forum will bring these important topics to a national audience for the first time in this election cycle,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, said in a statement.
In the weeks leading up to the first televised debate on June 26 and 27, candidates signaled that they would focus their marketing campaigns towards the LGBTQ community, hoping to turn the rainbow voter into a blue check mark in the primaries.
Democratic presidential hopefuls debate on the road to 2020
That was, of course, Pride month, and most campaigns spent their resources in shaping their political brand by adding a rainbow sign on their logos, hoping to capitalize on the LGBTQ vote. They wanted to send a "signal that the LGBTQ community is an important part of the Democratic Party coalition,” as Daniel Lewis, associate professor and the chair of the department of political science and international relations at Siena College, told the Daily News.
But once the Pride excitement died down, so did the extra attention spent on LGBTQ issues. The Presidential Candidate Forum on LGBTQ Issues aims to change that.
“We look forward to hearing how each 2020 candidate will fight for LGBTQ acceptance during this campaign and beyond and, as President, how each of them would repair the damage done to LGBTQ equality and acceptance by the Trump administration,” added Kate Ellis.