Tulsi Gabbard, a former congresswoman and presidential aspirant noted for her anti-LGBTQ+ record, has announced that she's leaving the Democratic Party.
"I can no longer remain in today's Democratic Party," Gabbard said in a video posted Tuesday from the first episode of her new podcast, The Tulsi Gabbard Show. "It's now under the complete control of an elitist cabal of warmongers driven by cowardly wokeness, who divide us by racializing every issue and stoking anti-white racism, who actively work to undermine our God-given freedoms enshrined in our Constitution, and who are hostile to people of faith and spirituality." She said the matter had been on her mind and troubling her for some time.
She claimed that President Joe Biden's administration is targeting as terrorists "parents who are vocally standing in opposition to radical curriculums and explicit sexual content being taught to their kids in public schools." Gabbard went on to say the administration is erasing women by supporting transgender people.
She also accused the administration of undermining law enforcement and the Supreme Court, treating "pro-life" protesters unfairly, seeking to quash gun rights and free speech, and above all moving the world closer to nuclear war, apparently through supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia's invasion.
Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to Congress, represented a Hawaii district in the U.S. House from 2013 to 2021. Before that she was a state representative and a member of the Hawaii City Council. While she was a state representative in 2004, she denounced "homosexual extremists," who, she said, were falsely claiming there was a difference between civil unions and marriage. Hawaii was considering civil union legislation at the time. She also used the phrase to describe opponents of her father, Mike Gabbard, who ran an organization that worked against marriage equality and other LGBTQ+ causes, and reportedly endorsed conversion therapy.
In 2019, while seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, she apologized for these statements. "In my past, I said and believed things that were wrong, and worse, they were very hurtful to people in the LGBTQ community and to their loved ones," she said. She added that her views had changed, and she had apologized for her statements previously, but was now "sincerely" repeating her apology.
During a presidential forum cosponsored by The Advocate that year, Gabbard denied that her commitment to the LGBTQ+ community was only "skin deep" and said her record in Congress, which was largely supportive of LGBTQ+ equality, could speak for itself.
But her later record belies this. On her way out of Congress in 2020, she introduced a bill to bar transgender girls and women from competing in female sports nationwide; it went nowhere. In April of this year, she posted a video to social media saying Florida's "don't say gay" law doesn't go far enough in censoring the discussion of sexuality and gender identity in public schools. "As I read the legislation, I gotta tell you, I was shocked to learn that it only protects kids from kindergarten till third grade," she said. "Third grade? What about 12th grade or not at all?"
Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran and former Senate aide, dropped out of the presidential race early in 2020 and endorsed Biden for the nomination. But she had endorsed a farther-left candidate, independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, over Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.
She drew criticism from Democrats this year for speaking at the Conservative Political Conference, one of the most prominent annual gatherings of the right wing. She made a plea for national unity there. On her podcast, the did not say if she would join the Republican Party or become an independent, but she asked for "independent-minded Democrats" to leave the Democratic Party as well.