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Tulsi Gabbard (1981–) is an American politician, and since 2013, one of two Congressional Representatives from Hawaii. She is of European and Samoan ancestry, and is the first Hindu member of the Congress.
She was the youngest woman to be elected to a U.S. state legislature, and served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 2002 to 2004. Directly following this she served in an Iraq combat zone from 2004 to 2005, and was later deployed to Kuwait.
She was the vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2013 until 2016, when she resigned to endorse Bernie Sanders for President. She is a relatively moderate Democrat in a heavily left-leaning district, and her support for Sanders was a convenient way to counter a primary challenger from the left. As a result, her reputation as a progressive has been called into question.
On the issues
Gabbard opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, calls for a restoration of the Glass-Steagall banking regulations, wants to stop mass surveillance of Americans by repealing the PATRIOT Act, supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and favors single-payer healthcare like many Democrats after the passage of Obamacare. She supports marijuana legalization.
In 2014, Gabbard said she was "conflicted" on the CIA's use of torture, saying that the "debate carries on" as to whether torture leads to accurate intelligence, and although she would not like to see any person being treated inhumanely she would do everything in her power to keep Americans safe in a ticking time bomb scenario.
Tulsi's base of support comes from Indian expatriates, many of whom are BJP sympathizers or supporters. She's networked with plenty of them. She thinks that it is important to identify the enemy by using the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism."
“”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.
Her record on LGBT issues is mixed. The Gabbards started in politics as homophobic activists. When a news site asked her directly if she supported same sex marriage, she immediately said yes on Twitter. Yet the Hawaii Democratic Party's LGBT Caucus did not like her. Ten years earlier, Gabbard was a pro-life opponent of same-same marriage, just like her Republican father, Mike Gabbard. In her early 20s, Gabbard protested against a bill that would have legalized civil unions for same-sex couples and delivered a speech in the Hawaii State House against a resolution meant to target anti-gay bullying in public schools. Gabbard objected to teaching students that homosexuality is "normal and natural" and worried the resolution would be "inviting homosexual-advocacy organizations into our schools to promote their agenda to our vulnerable youth."
Gabbard has since apologised and says her "views have changed significantly since then." Nowadays, she has a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign,[note 1]. While she rebuffed a 2013 offer for a meeting with the Hawaiian LGBT Caucus, she is a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. Gabbard herself once cited her time in the military, seeing the dangers of theocratic rule, that made her change her mind on her public position on marriage equality.
Despite being followers of Hare Krishna cult (within Chris Butler's, a.k.a. Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, subsect), he publicly claims to be Catholic while Tulsi identifies as Hindu. He and Tulsi have been running a nonprofit called Stand Up for America, with the mission of promoting patriotism and unity of the US.
“”In short, when it comes to the war against terrorists, I’m a hawk. When it comes to counterproductive wars of regime change, I’m a dove.
|—Gabbard in 2016.|
In 2015, Gabbard criticised the United States for not bombing al-Qaeda in Syria and said it was "mind-boggling" to protest Russia's military intervention. In March 2016, Gabbard was one of only three members of Congress, and the only Democrat, to vote against a resolution condemning violence against civilians by Assad's forces. Gabbard voted to add extra investigation on Syrian refugees coming into into the US, even though the current process can last up to three years. She went to Damascus and got wined and dined by the regime. Neither Pelosi nor Paul Ryan knew about this. Tulsi decided to drink tea with him just because Trump told her to. Now that Tulsi is running for POTUS in 2020, she doesn't want to be associated with Trump. While she called Assad a "brutal dictator", she has stated that Syria "would be in a far worse situation if al-Qaida took charge" and is therefore against a regime-change war.
Gabbard voted for the Iran deal, albeit while still being critical of Iran. She opposes allowing the US to go to war with Iran without explicit congressional authorization. She also opposes the US military support for Saudi Arabia's intervention in Yemen. She also said the US has to stand up for Israel, whom she considers to be America's biggest ally. She opposes the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel's occupation of Palestine and cosponsored a bill establishing support for an independent 'demilitarized' Palestinian state without the ability to raise a military force for its defense.
- LGBT civil rights advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign gave Gabbard a 100% score for the 115th United States Congress (January 2017 to January 2019). Her 114th score was 88% and her 113th score was 92%.
- Pignataro, Anthony, "Maui Democratic Party activist Shay Chan Hodges says she’s running against U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard", Maui Time 7.7.16.
- Higgins, Eoin, "Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Who You Think She Is", Paste (11/22/16 at 9:12am).
- Peoples War: "Tulsi Gabbard Endorses Torture During 12/17/14 NDTV Appearance @ 16:45" YouTube. January 14, 2019.
Host: Let me ask you in the end, as a soldier how do you respond to the much discussed report on the CIA's use of torture and what some Americans have called a blot on American values. Do you share that opinion or as a soldier do you have a very different perspective on the use of torture?
Gabbard: Very bluntly, I'm conflicted. I'm conflicted on this report. There are-- I think the jury is still out on the report itself. There have been comments that there are things missing or it was incomplete and there are differing opinions on the report itself. But as I think about it myself, clearly we would not like to see any human, any person around the world being treated inhumanely. On the other side, I can also understand that any of us, if we're in a situation where our family, or 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 is 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. So this is an area that I have conflicting feelings on.
Host: Although of course there are questions about whether torture actually leads to the correct intel, right? That debate carries on.
Gabbard: That debate carries on. There are those who are in the position of conducting these interrogations. Some who have said...
Host: ...it does work...
Gabbard: ...it does and others who have said it doesn't.
- Balachandran, Manu, "Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu in the US Congress, on Modi, Hinduism, and linking Islam to terror", Quartz India 3.2.16.
- Schwartz, Ian, "Dem Rep. Gabbard: Use Term Radical Islamic Terrorism, 'Important That You Identify Your Enemy'", RCP 7.18.16.
- Adrienne LaFrance, Tulsi Gabbard's Leftward Journey", Civil Beat
- Pignataro, Anthony, "UPDATED: Here’s why the Hawaii LGBT Caucus doesn’t support Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s reelection campaign", Maui Time 7.25.16.
- Bolante, Ronna, "Who is Mike Gabbard?", Honolulu Magazine (8/1/04).
- Sanneh, Kelefa. "What does Tulsi Gabbard believe?" The New Yorker. November 6, 2017.
- Choi, Matthew. "Tulsi Gabbard apologizes for past anti-LGBT rhetoric" Politico. January 17, 2019.
- Choi, Matthew. "Tulsi Gabbard apologizes for past anti-LGBT rhetoric" Politico. January 17, 2019.
- Q&A with Tulsi Gabbard. Yoga, Peace, and the Aloha Spirit, Yoga Hawaii Magazine 03.08.18.
- Tulsi Gabbard Still Dogged By Krishna Cult Rumors by Rui Kaneya (03/16/2015 02:26 pm ET) The Huffington Post.
- Essoyan, Susan, "Rivals protest endorsement of Tamayo by her nonprofit", Star Advertiser 1.4.17.
- "The rise of Gabbard: No telling how far independent path will take her" Hawaii Tribune-Herald. August 28, 2016.
- "Bad enough US has not been bombing al-Qaeda/al-Nusra in Syria. But it’s mind-boggling that we protest Russia’s bombing of these terrorists." Tulsi Gabbard on Twitter. September 30, 2015.
- "Tulsi Gabbard: The Bernie-Endorsing Congresswoman Who Trump Fans Can Love" The Daily Beast. July 25, 2016.
- Ashe, Ivy, "Gabbard supports GOP bill on Syrian refugees", Hawaii Tribune-Herald (11/21/15 at 1:30am).
- Heather Caygle and Josh Bresnahan, "Gabbard won't disclose who's paying for secret trip to Syria", Politico (Updated 01/18/17 05:24 PM EST).
- Cribb, Esmi, "Tulsi Gabbard Confirms She Met With Assad During Secret Trip To Syria" TPM (1/25/17 at 4:34 PM EDT).
- Rowell, Alex, "Tulsi Gabbard’s Fascist Escorts to Syria", Daily Beast (1/26/17 at 4:25 PM ET).
- Siddiqui, Sabrina, "Tulsi Gabbard reveals she met Assad in Syria, without informing top Democrats", Guardian (1/26/17 at 12:58 PM EST).
- Swan, Jonathan, "Bannon set up Trump-Gabbard meeting", The Hill (11/21/16 04:35 PM EST).
- Pignataro, Anthony, "Why didn’t Rep. Tulsi Gabbard join 169 of her colleagues in denouncing Trump appointee Stephen Bannon?", Maui Time 11.18.16.
- Shahid Ahmen, Ackbar, "Tulsi Gabbard Denies New Report Of Trump’s Role In Her Syria Trip", HuffPo 4.3.17.
- Grube, Nick, "Gabbard Skeptical That Syria Was Behind Chemical Attack", Civil Beat 4.7.17.
- Gabbard, Tulsi. “End the War in Syria.” Tulsi Gabbard, [www.votetulsi.com/node/25114].
- "Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Bill To Halt U.S. Arms Supplies To Syrian Allies", NPR (12/10/16 at 8:27 AM ET).
- Press Release: "Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes in Support of Iran Deal Over Alternatives", 9.11.14.
- Press Release: "Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Reacts To Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Address To Congress", 3.4.15.