Tulsi Gabbard

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Tulsi Gabbard
Official 114th Congressional photograph of Tulsi Gabbard
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 2nd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded byMazie Hirono
Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee
In office
January 22, 2013 – February 27, 2016
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 38)
Leloaloa, American Samoa
Political partyDemocratic
Eduardo Tamayo
(m. 2002; div. 2006)

Abraham Williams (m. 2015)
RelativesMike Gabbard (father)
EducationHawaii Pacific University (BSBA)
WebsiteHouse website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service2003–present
RankUS-O4 insignia.svg Major
UnitSeal of the United States Army National Guard.svg Hawaii Army National Guard
Battles/warsIraq War
AwardsMeritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Meritorious Service Medal

Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal

Army Achievement Medal ribbon.svg 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. She is a member of the Democratic Party. Following her election in 2012, she became the first Samoan American 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 deployed to Kuwait from 2008 to 2009. She 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. Gabbard 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.

Gabbard opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership. She is critical of interventionism in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. She supports abortion rights, Medicare for All, and same-sex marriage.

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

Early life and education[edit]

Gabbard was born on April 12, 1981, in Leloaloa, Maoputasi County, on American Samoa's main island of Tutuila.[2] She was the fourth of five children[3] born to Mike Gabbard and his wife Carol (née Porter) 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. Her mother, who was born in Decatur, Indiana, is of German descent and a practicing Hindu. Gabbard chose Hinduism as her religion while she was a teenager.[5][3][6]

Gabbard was home-schooled through high school except for two years at a Christian missionary academy for girls in the Philippines.[7] She graduated from Hawaii Pacific University with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration in 2009.[8][9][10]

Military service[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.[11] In July 2004 she volunteered for a 12-month tour in Iraq, serving in a field medical unit as a specialist with the 29th Support Battalion medical company.[12][13][14][15] Gabbard served at Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Iraq, completing her tour in 2005.[16][17] Anaconda had the nickname "Mortaritaville" because of the high frequency of Iraqi insurgent mortars targeting it.[18]

In 2006 Gabbard began serving as a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka in Washington, D.C.,[19] and in March 2007 she graduated from the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy where she was the first woman to finish as the Distinguished Honor Graduate in the Alabama Military Academy's fifty-year history. This award, signifying distinguished leadership and academic ability, is given to one top candidate per state in each OCS class and presented by the authority of the Department of the Army and the Air Force, National Guard Bureau. The accelerated program is the most physically and mentally demanding program.[20] Gabbard was the first woman to finish as the distinguished honor graduate in the Academy's 50-year history.[21][19][22][23] 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.[24][25][26] She was deployed to Kuwait from 2008 to 2009.[27][12][17]

On October 12, 2015, Gabbard was promoted from captain to major at a ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Akaka administered the oath of office to the new major.[28][29] She continues to serve as a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard.[30]

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.[31]

Political career[edit]

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


In 2002, after redistricting, Gabbard (as Tulsi 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.[32] Gabbard then defeated Republican Alfonso Jimenez in the general election, 65%–35%.[33] At the age of 21 Gabbard became the youngest legislator ever elected in Hawaii's history and the youngest woman ever elected to a U.S. state legislature.[21][34][21]

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.[35] Gabbard chose not to campaign for a second term,[14] and Cabanilla won the Democratic primary, 64%–25%.[36]

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.[37] 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.[38] In the November 2 runoff election she defeated Sesnita Moepono, 58%–42%.[39]


As a Honolulu City Councilwoman, Gabbard introduced a measure to help food truck vendors by loosening parking restrictions.[40] 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.[41][42] After overcoming opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)[43] and Occupy Hawai'i,[44] 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.[45] She resigned from the council on August 16, 2012, to focus on her congressional campaign.[46]

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


Gabbard in 2012

In early 2011 Mazie Hirono, the incumbent Democratic U.S. Representative for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, announced that she would run for the United States Senate. In May 2011 Gabbard announced her candidacy for Hirono's House of Representatives seat.[47] She was endorsed by the Sierra Club,[48] Emily's List[49] and VoteVets.org.[50] The Democratic Mayor of Honolulu, Mufi Hannemann, was the best-known candidate in the six-way primary, but Gabbard won with 62,882 votes (55% of the total); the Honolulu Star-Advertiser called her win an "improbable rise from a distant underdog to victory."[51] Gabbard resigned from the City Council on August 16 to prevent the cost of holding a special election.[52][53]

As the Democratic nominee, Gabbard traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, and spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.[54] She credited grassroots support as the reason for her come-from-behind win in the primary.[55] Gabbard won the general election on November 6, 2012, defeating Republican Kawika Crowley, by 168,503 to 40,707 votes (80.6%−19.4%).[56]


In December 2012 Gabbard applied to be considered for appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of Daniel Inouye,[57] but despite support from prominent mainland Democrats,[58][59] she was not among the three candidates the Democratic Party of Hawaii selected.[60]

Gabbard was reelected on November 8, 2014, defeating Crowley again, by 142,010 to 33,630 votes (78.7%–18.6%); Libertarian candidate Joe Kent garnered 4,693 votes (2.6%).[61] PACs contributed $434,000 to Gabbard's 2014 campaign.[62]


Gabbard was reelected on November 8, 2016, defeating her Republican opponent, Angela Kaaihue, by 170,848 to 39,668 votes (81.2%–18.8%).[63]

PACs contributed $465,000 to her 2016 campaign.[62]


Gabbard was reelected in 2018,[64] defeating her Republican opponent, Brian Evans, by 153,271 to 44,850 votes (77.4%–22.6%).


Gabbard is the first Samoan-American voting member of the United States Congress[65] and the first Hindu member of the United States Congress.[66][67]

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 (H.R. 1344 (113th Congress)), seeking to improve airport security screenings for severely wounded veterans. It passed Congress and was signed into law by President Barack Obama.[68][69][70] She also led an effort to pass legislation to assist victims of military sexual trauma.[71][72][73]


Along with Senator Hirono, Gabbard introduced a bill to award Filipino and Filipino American veterans who fought in World War II the Congressional Gold Medal.[74] The bill passed Congress[75] and was signed into law by Obama in December 2016.[76]

Gabbard also introduced Talia's Law, to prevent child abuse and neglect on military bases. It passed Congress and was signed by into law by Obama in December 2016.[77][78][79]


In 2017 Gabbard introduced the "Off Fossil Fuels (OFF) Act", which set a target of 2035 for transitioning the United States to renewable energy. It was endorsed by Food and Water Watch, which called it "visionary".[80]

In 2018 Gabbard introduced the "Securing America's Election Act", a bill to require all districts to use paper ballots, yielding an auditable paper trail in the event of a recount. Common Cause endorsed the bill.[81] When the Mueller Report failed to find that members of Trump's 2016 campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government, Gabbard called this "a good thing for America". She subsequently reintroduced her election security bill, arguing that it would make foreign interference less likely to occur in 2020.[82]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus membership[edit]

Democratic National Committee[edit]

On January 22, 2013, Gabbard was elected to a four-year term as Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee.[89] She was critical of chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's decision to hold only six debates during the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries, compared with 26 in 2008 and 15 in 2004.[90][91] Along with Minneapolis mayor R. T. Rybak and two candidates, Gabbard called for more debates, appearing on multiple news outlets to express her dissatisfaction with the reduction in the number. Later she was either "disinvited" or asked to "consider not coming" to the Democratic debate in Las Vegas as a consequence. In a phone interview with the New York Times, Gabbard spoke of an unhealthy atmosphere and the feeling that she had "checked [her free speech] at the door" in taking the job.[92]

Gabbard resigned as DNC Vice Chair on February 28, 2016, in order to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for the nomination.[93][94] She was the first Congresswoman to endorse Sanders[95] and later gave the nominating speech putting his name forward at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.[96]

In July 2016 Gabbard launched a petition to end the Democratic Party's process of appointing superdelegates in the nomination process.[97] She endorsed Keith Ellison for DNC chair in the 2017 chairmanship elections.[98]

Syria trip[edit]

In January 2017 Gabbard met with President Bashar al-Assad in what she said was an unplanned meeting during a trip to Syria and Lebanon. She had reportedly not informed House leadership of her trip in advance.[99][100][101] Gabbard said in a press release that the trip was approved by the House Ethics Committee and paid for by Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services (AACCESS-Ohio).[102][103] She later paid for the trip with her own money.[104] 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.[104][105] Remaining forms and her itinerary were submitted on February 8, 2017.[106] Within a week of the meeting, Gabbard relayed the Syrian government's "message to the American people ... There is no difference between 'moderate' rebels and al-Qaeda (al-Nusra) or ISIS".[107]

2020 presidential campaign[edit]

Gabbard campaigning for President in San Francisco, California
Tulsi Gabbard 2020 presidential campaign logo

Gabbard was mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016,[108][109] and that year was assigned as Bernie Sanders's running mate in California for any write-in votes for Sanders.[110]

In May 2017 Gabbard announced that she had stopped accepting money from the defense industry and from PACs. In her first three terms, she accepted just under $0.12m from military industrial complex donors like BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.[111]

On February 2, 2019, Gabbard officially launched her 2020 presidential campaign, saying that it was in the "spirit of service above self" that she announced her candidacy.[112] CNN described her foreign policy platform as anti-interventionalist and her economic platform as populist.[112]

Politico described the campaign as in disarray, as campaign manager Rania Batrice left the campaign after her unplanned announcement. Along with the recent conflict surrounding her use of the term "religious bigotry" in speaking of Brian Buescher's confirmation hearings and the Daily Kos's decision to fund her opponent for her House seat, Gabbard also apologized for some of her former positions.[113]

After Gabbard announced her candidacy, RT, Sputnik News, and Russia Insider ran about 20 stories favorable to her. NBC News reported that these outlets attempted to interfere in the 2016 United States elections.[114][115] In Rolling Stone magazine, Matt Taibbi called the NBC report a "transparent hit piece".[116] Likewise, in The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald criticized NBC's "McCarthyite storyline" and use of a cybersecurity firm as a source, because the company had participated in what it alternately called a "false flag operation" or an "experiment" against a Republican candidate during the 2018 US legislative election.[117][118]

According to Google Trends, Gabbard had the most Google searches after the first 2020 Democratic debate, which aired on June 26, 2019.[119][120] Search traffic was likely due to her being relatively unknown.[121] A tweet from Gabbard's official Twitter account, signed by her sister, argued that debate host MSNBC allotted speaking time to the candidates unfairly: "It's clear who MSNBC wants to be president: Elizabeth Warren". Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren spoke for 11 and 9.5 minutes respectively, while Gabbard spoke for 6.5 minutes.[122][123]

Nonprofit organizations and associations[edit]

Gabbard and her father co-founded Healthy Hawaiʻi Coalition, an environmental educational group.[124]

Gabbard was also a cofounder of the non-profit Stand Up For America (SUFA),[125] which she and her father co-founded in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.[126] SUFA's website profiled Gabbard[127] and hosted letters from her sent during her deployments overseas.[128][129] In September 2010 SUFA's website came under criticism for promoting her campaign for the Honolulu City Council. Gabbard said the improper addition "was an honest mistake from a volunteer," and the page and link in question were immediately removed.[125]

She is a former member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).[130][131]


Days before it began, Gabbard reiterated she was withdrawing from the 2018 World Hindu Congress, expressing concern over a "significant number of Indian partisan politicians [...] playing an important role" at the event. She had earlier written to an organizer of the event to voice concern that it was "becoming a platform for Indian partisan politics."[132] In January 2019 The Intercept published an article claiming Gabbard had links with Hindu nationalist organization Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, and the Hindu American Foundation.[133] An earlier version of The Intercept's article searched Gabbard's donor list for "names ... of Hindu origin" to "show Gabbard's broad base of support in the Hindu-American community".[133] In an op-ed, Gabbard criticized this as religious bigotry, saying that Christians would not be subject to such scrutiny based on their names. She also condemned religious intolerance in politics, media, and society in general.[134] The Intercept removed the sentence with an apology, saying that it was not intended "to question the motives of those political donors" and apologizing "for any such implication".[133] Gabbard also rebutted claims she is a "Hindu nationalist", calling it "religious bigotry", and writing "My meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India's democratically elected leader, have been highlighted as 'proof' of this and portrayed as somehow being out of the ordinary or somehow suspect, even though President Obama, Secretary Clinton, President Trump and many of my colleagues in Congress have met with and worked with him."[134]

Political positions[edit]

Gabbard speaking at a luncheon in February 2013

Campaign finance[edit]

As of 2017 Gabbard had received more than $1.3 million in special interest contributions.[135] In 2017 she pledged to no longer accept money from political action committees.[136] In October 2018 The Intercept reported that she was one of only four members of Congress who had pledged not to accept corporate campaign donations.[137][138]



In 2012 Gabbard supported the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act.[139]

In 2018 Gabbard voted with the minority against a bill that she said worked to undo state-level legislation seeking to curb maximum interest rates on loans. She said that interest rates could reach an annual percentage rate (APR) of 459 percent in Hawaii, which has no such state-level legislation.[140]

Federal minimum wage[edit]

In 2017 Gabbard supported a bill to increase the hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2024.[141]


Gabbard supports making community college tuition free for all Americans while making all four-year colleges tuition free for students with an annual family income of $125,000 or less. The free tuition would be funded by a new tax on trading stocks and bonds.[142]


Gabbard at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii in September 2016

Gabbard received the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter's endorsement in the 2012 Democratic primary election for Congress[143] and in her 2014 reelection campaign.[144]

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.[145][146]

In September 2017 she introduced legislation seeking to transition the United States to clean renewable energy. The bill would require electric utilities to transition to 80% renewable energy resources by 2027 and 100% renewable by 2035, while setting similar vehicle emission standards goals and banning hydraulic fracturing.[147][142]

In November 2018 Gabbard spoke in favor of a Green New Deal, which was at the time a draft resolution to task a special House committee with coming up with legislation to eliminate fossil fuel use from the economy within a decade. In February 2019 she expressed concerns about the version of the Green New Deal proposed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey saying, "I have some concerns with the Green New Deal, and about some of the vagueness of the language in there, so have not co-sponsored the legislation.”.[148]

Foreign policy[edit]

Gabbard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia


Following her 2017 visit to Syria, Gabbard opposed US involvement in regime change, calling it counterproductive to defeating ISIL, al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.[149][150] She criticized the Obama Administration for "refusing" to say that "Islamic extremists" are waging a war against the United States.[151] She proposed the Stop Arming Terrorists Act "to force the C.I.A. to stop aiding militants in Syria" by banning federal funding for Al Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and ISIL. The bill has 14 cosponsors.[152][153][154][155]

Gabbard's views on Islamic terrorism have distinguished her from the more moderate views of mainstream Democrats. In 2015, she met with U.S.-backed authoritarian Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to discuss "the threat of ISIS and Islamic extremist groups", two years after he led the August 2013 Rabaa massacre which killed hundreds of civilians.[156][157][139] She has advocated increasing pressure on Pakistan to stop terrorist attacks and expressed "solidarity with India" in reference to the 2016 Uri attack.[158]


Gabbard and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York on September 28, 2014

Gabbard supports a strong US-India relationship. She has repeatedly praised Indian prime minister Narendra Modi,[159][160] 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" as it could have undermined the US-India relationship (which she said was important especially in regard to the war on terrorism, among other reasons) had he used it as an excuse to reject a strong relationship with America.[159]

Gabbard also criticized the arrest of Indian consular officer Devyani Khobragade on charges of visa fraud and perjury.[160] In 2013 she joined some of her colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee in opposing a House resolution 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". The bill admonished India to protect "the rights and freedoms of religious minorities" and specifically referenced incidents of mass violence against India's Muslim minority that took place under Modi's watch. Gabbard justified her opposition by saying the resolution would weaken the friendship between India and the US and citing the bill's timing as interfering with India's elections, while emphasizing the need for US to stand for religious freedom. She later also said that "there was a lot of misinformation that surrounded the event in 2002."[161][159][162][163]

In an NDTV India interview, she was asked about her 2012 opponent's claim that electing a Hindu to the US Congress was incompatible with the US Constitution. She also responded to accusations that she was close to the Bharatiya Janata Party, denying any such proximity.[164]


Gabbard voted in favor of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an agreement with Iran that imposed restraints on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.[165] She opposes the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and stated that as president she would reenter the agreement, but also negotiate on remaining issues in order to find a diplomatic solution and deescalate tensions.[166]

In May 2019 Gabbard warned about the danger, costs, and consequences of a potential war with Iran and criticized the Trump administration for elevating tensions.[167][168][169] She said it would be illegal for the Trump administration to rely on a 2001 law that authorized the use of U.S. Armed Forces against those responsible for the September 11 attacks and any "associated forces".[170]

US congressional delegation at Halifax International Security Forum 2014

U.S. military interventions[edit]

Gabbard considers the 2003 invasion of Iraq to have been a disaster[171] in part because victorious withdrawal after removing Saddam Hussein from power was complicated by civil war.[172] She also opposed the NATO-led military intervention in Libya in 2011[171] and has called for an end to the nearly two-decades-long U.S. war in Afghanistan.[173]


Gabbard supports a strong US-Israel relationship. In March 2015, unlike many Democrats, she did not boycott Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the US Congress,[139] saying at the time that relations “must rise above the political fray, as America continues to stand with Israel as her strongest ally.”[99] On July 14, 2015, Gabbard attended the Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a conservative leaning organization.[174]

In January 2017 Gabbard voted against a House resolution condemning the U.N. Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements built on the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank. She said, "While I remain concerned about aspects of the U.N. resolution, I share the Obama administration's reservation about the harmful impact Israeli settlement activity has on the prospects for peace."[99] She criticized Israel's use of live ammunition along the Gaza fence in May 2018.[99]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Gabbard opposed a $1.15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. She has said, "The U.S. must stop arming Saudi Arabia, stop fueling this fire and hold Saudi Arabia accountable for their actions.”[175][176]

Gabbard has called for ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, saying the U.S. is complicit in a humanitarian disaster.[142] In September 2018 she supported a legislation invoking the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to stop U.S. involvement in the war.[177]

In November 2018, after Trump indicated the U.S. would not sanction Saudi Arabia over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, Gabbard tweeted at Trump, "being Saudi Arabia's bitch is not 'America First.'"[178]


In 2013 Gabbard opposed the Obama administration's proposed military strikes in Syria[179] and introduced legislation to block CIA activities in Syria and U.S. military action against Assad.[180]

In March 2016 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,"[181] 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".[182][183] In November 2016 she met with United States president-elect Donald Trump in an effort to convince him of her point of view.[184] In 2017 Gabbard cited US "regime-change" involvement in Syria as a source of the Syrian refugee crisis.[185]

In April 2017, following the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, Gabbard called for a U.N. investigation into the attack and the prosecution of Bashar al-Assad by the International Criminal Court should he be found responsible.[186][187] After 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,[188] which led to sharp criticism from former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean as well as Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden.[187][189]

In a 2018 interview with The Nation, Gabbard said the United States had "been waging a regime change war in Syria since 2011. Central to that war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad, along with our allies Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar, has been providing direct and indirect support to terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda".[190] In February 2019 Gabbard said there was "no disputing the fact that [Assad] has used chemical weapons and other weapons against his people."[191]


In a December 2014 interview Gabbard said she was "conflicted" about the report published that week on the CIA's use of torture in interrogations, saying that "the jury [wa]s still out on the report". She also said that while she abhorred torture, were there an imminent danger to American citizens, she, as president, "would do everything in [her] power to keep the American people safe."[192][193]

In a February 2019 interview with Status Coup host Jordan Chariton, Gabbard said, "Through my time on the armed services committee in congress over the last five years I've supported amendments to the defense bill that ban torture, ban these enhanced interrogation techniques, and as president will continue to strongly oppose torture and the use of those techniques".[194]

Trans-Pacific Partnership[edit]

Gabbard opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and led protests against it.[195] A member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, she criticized both the deal itself and the secrecy surrounding the negotiations, arguing that it would primarily benefit multinational corporations and be a detriment to American workers and the environment.[196]

Health care[edit]

Gabbard supports universal health care.[197][198] She co-sponsored a bill that would create a "government-run system to provide health care for all residents of the United States", in part paid for by hiking taxes on the wealthy and taxing financial transactions.[142]


In 2015 Gabbard voted with Congressional Republicans in favor of a bill requiring "extreme vetting" of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. The Obama administration said the bill would effectively stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.[199][200][201] That same year she called for a suspension of the visa waiver program for European passport holders.[202][203]

Labeling GMOs[edit]

In 2013 Gabbard sponsored legislation to require GMO labeling.[204][205] In 2016 she voted against a GMO-labeling bill, saying that it was too weak.[206]

Gun rights[edit]

Civil Rights Luncheon at the 2013 AFGE annual Legislative Conference
Standing with fellow House Democrats to demand a vote on gun control measures

Gabbard has an inconsistent record on gun control issues, having taken a less aggressive approach than other Democrats, and received $400 in contributions from the gun industry during her Honolulu City Council campaign.[207] She has co-sponsored bills that would ban assault weapons and institute background checks for all gun purchases.[142]

In March 2017 Gabbard was one of the few Democratic representatives to vote for the National Rifle Association (NRA)-supported Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, "which would have essentially blocked the Department of Veterans Affairs from notifying the National Instant Criminal Background Check System that a veteran was mentally incompetent after determining they are unable to manage their own finances".[207]

LGBT rights[edit]

Gabbard opposed civil unions and same-sex marriage in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when she was a teenager and in her early twenties.[208][209] She worked with her father's PAC, The Alliance for Traditional Marriage, to pass a constitutional amendment "to protect traditional marriage". Campaigning for her first political office a few years later, she cited her experience with her state senator father's political action committee, which opposed pro-LGBT lawmakers and laws and promoted conversion therapy.[210][211] The Alliance for Traditional Marriage spent more than $100,000 opposing LGBT rights.[62] In her campaign for the Hawaii legislature in 2002, she vowed to "pass a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage."[212][213]

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."[208] 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.[214] 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".[215][216] She also disputed that Hawaii schools were rampant with anti-gay discrimination.[215]

In 2012 Gabbard said that she believed same-sex marriage should be legalized throughout the United States[217] and apologized for her prior anti-LGBT stance. She has since worked to advance LGBT rights.[218] Gabbard credited her tours of duty in the Middle East for her change in views.[208][219] She co-sponsored 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.[220] 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.[221] 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.[222][223][224]

After launching her presidential campaign in January 2019, Gabbard again apologized for her past anti-LGBT rights positions and statements, saying that her views had changed as her experience outside of a socially conservative home grew.[225]

Religious freedom[edit]

During Brian C. Buescher's confirmation hearing for U.S. District Court in Nebraska, Gabbard wrote an op-ed on The Hill's Congress Blog arguing that while she personally opposed Buescher's nomination, her opposition was not based on his association with the Catholic Church or the Knights of Columbus; any opposition to Buescher based on his association with these religious institutions would, in her view, amount to religious bigotry[226] and would violate Article VI of the US Constitution.[227]

Reproductive rights and abortion[edit]

Gabbard supports reproductive rights,[228] including federal funding for abortion.[229] She opposed abortion earlier in her career, but changed her mind.[230][142][139]

Opposition to prosecuting Assange and Snowden[edit]

Gabbard has stated that the U.S. government should drop charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, taking action to "close the loopholes" in the law Snowden exposed.[231]

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.[232] 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.[233] She later called the Trump administration's 2017 Shayrat missile strike reckless and "short-sighted."[186]

Gabbard did not join the 169 congressional Democrats who signed a letter of opposition to Steve Bannon's appointment as Trump's chief strategist,[234][235] but she joined 182 other colleagues to co-sponsor a bill to remove him from the National Security Council.[236]

Gabbard vehemently criticized the 2017 United States–Saudi Arabia arms deal[176][237] and the administration's decision not to sanction Saudi Arabia over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.[178]

Personal life[edit]

Gabbard's first name comes from Sanskrit. Tulsi is the name for Holy Basil, a plant sacred in Hinduism.[238] Her siblings also have Hindu Sanskrit-origin names.[3] During her childhood Gabbard excelled in martial arts, and was interested in gardening. She is a surfer and an accomplished athlete.[230] In 2002 she was a martial arts instructor.[239] She is a vegetarian and, as a Hindu, follows Gaudiya Vaishnavism,[7] a religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the 16th century. Gabbard describes herself as a karma yogi.[240] She values the Bhagavad Gita as a spiritual guide,[241] and used it when she took the oath of office in 2013.[242][243]

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".[244]

In 2002 Gabbard married Eduardo Tamayo.[45][245] They divorced in 2006. She cites "the stresses war places on military spouses and families" as a reason for their divorce.[208] In 2015 Gabbard married freelance cinematographer and editor Abraham Williams.[246]

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.[247]

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".[248]

On July 15, 2015, Gabbard received the Friend of the National Parks Award from the National Parks Conservation Association.[249]

In her role with the Hawaii Army National Guard, Gabbard has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal,[250] the Army Commendation Medal with bronze oak leaf device, the Army Achievement Medal with bronze oak leaf device, and the Army Combat Medical Badge.[187]

See also[edit]


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    TG: Exactly. "Hindus have no place in the United States Congress", I think was the gist of what he said. I will follow that up by saying that I ended up winning the election with close to 80% of the vote, and I think even the 20% who voted for him [Crowley] would not agree with his sentiments in that regard.
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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