Mike Gabbard, Tulsi Gabbard’s father, has been a controversial figure in the news over the years, and his past has come up again while Gabbard is running for President. Mike Gabbard is a politician too, and is perhaps best known for leading a movement in the late 1990s to allow the Hawaii legislature to ban same-sex marriage. Tulsi supported her father’s views at the time, but changed her mind after serving in the military and now supports the LGBT community. Tulsi and her father, Mike, are still very close. Here’s what you need to know about Mike Gabbard, Tulsi Gabbard’s dad.
1. Mike Gabbard Is Catholic & Ran a Popular Restaurant
Tulsi’s parents have different religious beliefs but support one another fully. Mike Gabbard is Catholic, Hawaii News Now reported, while Tulsi’s mother Carol Gabbard follows 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.
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.
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. He Changed from Being a Republican to a Democrat in 2007
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 as a Republican and won 56 percent to 44 percent. In 2007 he switched and joined the Democratic party. He said that 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.
3. He Campaigned Against Gay Marriage
For years, Mike Gabbard was staunchly against gay marriage, seeking to prevent what he called the “radical homosexual agenda” from succeeding. The New Yorker noted that in 1999, when a character on Dawson’s Creek came out as gay, Mike Gabbard 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.
Mike Gabbard told the Washington Examiner in January that he still believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, but he respects Tulsi’s difference of opinion.
But the gay marriage position is not Gabbard’s only political stance. He also actively campaigns against wildlife trafficking.
4. Tulsi Gabbard Apologized for Once Supporting Her Dad’s Views on Gay Marriage
Tulsi once 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.”
In January, Tulsi apologized for her past remark. She said, in part: “I grew up knowing that every person is a child of God, and equally loved by God. I have always believed in the fundamental rights and equality of all people. But I also grew up in a socially conservative household, where I was raised to believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. For a period of my life I didn’t see the contradiction in those beliefs. … But over the years, I formed my own opinions based on my life experience that changed my views – at a personal level in having aloha, love, for all people, and ensuring that every American, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, is treated equally under the law.”
You can watch her full video above.
After she released the video, Mike Gabbard emailed the Washington Examiner and said her video surprised him. “I never realized how much trauma I put her through because of my overly aggressive advocacy for traditional marriage,” he wrote in part.
5. Tulsi & Her Father Are Very Close & He Walked Her Down the Aisle for Her Wedding
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.
She and her father are still close to this day. 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.