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Tulsi Gabbard Attempts to Explain Away Her Anti-LGBTQ Past

Tulsi Gabbard

The Democratic presidential candidate is trying to walk back opposition to marriage equality in 2004. 

Presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard attempted to explain away virulently anti-LGBTQ comments she'd made in the early 2000s during a CNN Town Hall this past weekend.

"I was raised in a very socially conservative home. My father is Catholic, he was a leading voice against gay marriage in Hawaii at that time," Gabbard told host Dana Bash.

"Again, I was very young, but these are the values and beliefs that I grew up around."

The 37-year-old Gabbard has faced withering criticism for comments back in the dark age of 2004 when people were just starting to move from MySpace to Facebook, and the world reeled from news that jazz saxophonist Dave Koz was gay.

It's also when President George W. Bush ran for re-election on a promise (albeit an empty one) to seek a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.

But as a Democratic state lawmaker in Hawaii, the Honolulu Star Bulletinreported Gabbard argued against marriage equality. "As Democrats, we should be representing the views of the people," she said, "not a small number of homosexual extremists."

Gabbard's father, Mike Gabbard, was a leader of the anti-equality Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values at the time.

But Gabbard now says her views have evolved like Barack Obama. She is changed, she told Bash, by seeing what moral oppression did to people in the Middle East while she served overseas in the military.

"I saw first-hand the negative impact of a government attempting to act as a moral arbiter for their people, dictating in the most personal ways how they must live their lives," she said.

She also higlighted her service within the armed forces during the Don't Ask-Don't Tell era.

"I also served with gay and lesbian and trans service members, and we became very good friends, and knew in the most deep and visceral way that I would give my life for any one of them," she said. "And I knew that they would do the same for me."

She says her record in Congress has been pro-LGBTQ and has never supported controversial practices like conversion therapy.

"I never advocated for conversion therapy," she said. "And frankly, I didn't even know what conversion therapy was until just the last few years."

On Monday afternoon, the Democratic National Committee will announce that the national convention will be held in Milwaukee for the first time ever. Gabbard will be in attendance as she continues to vie for the party's nomination.

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