Tulsi Gabbard, a candidate for President of the United States in 2020, has a unique and loving family background. She and her parents are very close. In the photo above, from Tulsi’s Instagram, she wrote: “My Valentines. Wonderful evening with two of my best friends. Love you mom and dad!” Both her parents have a political background, and they homeschooled Tulsi and her four siblings. Here’s what you need to know about Tulsi’s father, Mike Gabbard, her mother, Carol Gabbard, and the family she grew up in.
1. Mike Gabbard, Tulsi’s Dad, Is Catholic & Carol Gabbard, Her Mom, Is Hindu
Mike Gabbard is Catholic, Hawaii News Now reported, while Carol believes in the Hindu faith. They’ve found a good compromise in their marriage. Carol goes to Mass and Mike participates in some religious holidays that she observes, including Janmashtami.
As a child, Tulsi spent two years in the Philippines, learning at schools led by followers of Chris Butler, the founder of a Hare Krishna offshoot, The New Yorker reported.
Carol is from Decatur, Indiana but grew up in Michigan.
Mike was born in American Samoa to Benjamin Harrison Gabbard, Jr. and Agnes Yandall Gabbard. He has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in Adult Education. He’s one of eight children. Mike is also a songwriter, his bio shares.
An earlier version of his website also mentioned that Mike was a teacher, counselor, headmaster for a private school, college administrator, tennis pro, and restaurant owner.
Carol’s former political website mentioned that she had a bachelor’s in speech therapy, was a former teacher, and had tutoring and homeschooling experience.
Mike and Carol owned Hawaiian Toffee Treasures from 1998 to 2017. According to Mike’s website, “many people say [it] was the best English toffee in the world.
2. Tulsi Has Four Siblings, All with Hindu Names
Mike and Carol were married in 1968. They have five children, including Tulsi, and eight grandchildren. Because of Carol’s Hindu faith, their children all have Hindu names: sons Bhakti, Jai, and Aryan, and daughters Tulsi and Vrindavan.
Mike and Carol homeschooled their children, they told Hawaii News Now in 2013. Their sons became businessmen, tennis players, and golfers. And, Carol added: “Our daughters are the warriors, the U.S. Marshall and the military police.”
3. Tulsi’s Sister, a U.S. Marshal, Planned Her Wedding
Tulsi’s sister, Vrindavan, is a U.S. marshal. She also planned Tulsi’s wedding. Tulsi told People in 2015, “I could not have done it without her because of the work that I’m doing in Washington. I serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Armed Services Committee and we’ve been focusing a lot on what’s happening in the Middle East and what’s happening with ISIS.”
When Tulsi was married in 2015, her dad walked her down the aisle, People reported, and her mother tied a lei around Tulsi and her husband, Abraham William’s, hands. Tulsi’s sister’s husband and other relatives cooked the meal that was served after the wedding. It included many Indian-style dishes, like paneer tikka masala and saffron rice.
Just two years earlier, Tulsi had attended her brother Jai’s wedding to Jade.
4. Carol & Mike Have Both Won Elections of Their Own, But Mike Gabbard Switched from Being a Republican to a Democrat After One Of His Wins
In 2000, Carol Gabbard was elected to the State Board of Education in Hawaii. She served on the board from 2000 to 2004 and was the first member of the family to win an election.
Tulsi’s dad, Mike Gabbard, won a seat on the Honolulu City Council in 2002, at the same time that Tulsi won a seat to the Hawaii State House of Representatives, The New Yorker reported.
In 2006, he ran for the Hawaii State Senate and won 56 percent to 44 percent. He won as a Republican, but in 2007 he switched and joined the Democratic party. He believed he could better represent his constituents as part of the majority party in the State Senate. He was re-elected in 2010, and again in 2012. He ran unopposed in 2016. In 2018, he sought to ban sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate.
Tulsi and her dad co-founded two non-profit organizations: the Healthy Hawaii Coalition for environmentalism and Stand Up for America, which supported the military.
In 2007, Mike and Carol co-founded the Aloha Parenting Project.
5. Mike Gabbard Was Against Gay Marriage, But Tulsi Abandoned That Viewpoint After Serving in the Military
For years, Mike Gabbard was staunchly against gay marriage, seeking to prevent what he called the “radical homosexual agenda” from succeeding. In fact, The New Yorker noted that in 1999, when a character on Dawson’s Creek came out as gay, he flew to North Carolina where the show was filmed to protest. A year earlier, in 1998, Mike successfully sought an amendment to Hawaii’s Constitution, allowing the legislature to ban same-sex marriage.
For a time, Tulsi supported her dad’s beliefs, including objecting to the idea of students’ being taught in schools that homosexuality was “natural.” But she later said that after serving in the military, many of her beliefs changed. She told The New Yorker, “Experiencing as a woman, firsthand, the impacts of countries that are acting as moral arbiters for their people—it really caused me to rethink the positions I held.”