June 22nd, 2012

The Equality Hawaii Action Fund, a nonpartisan political action committee, on Friday announced its endorsements for the state’s congressional primaries.

The PAC chose candidates based on their support of five federal issues:
>> The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
>> The repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
>> Equal rights for same-sex military spouses (following the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell).
>> Equal immigration rights for binational same-sex families (Uniting American Families Act).
>> The Safe Schools Improvement Act.

In some races, the group chose more than one candidate.

Among the notable selections was that of Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard in the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District.

Gabbard, whose father Sen. Mike Gabbard was a strong opponent of the civil unions bill passed last year, was once similarly opposed to the concept. She has since changed her stance and now supports civil unions as the only legal status for all couples.

In backing Tulsi Gabbard, EHAF applauded her “evolution” on the issue:

“We applaud Gabbard’s evolution on issues of equality in our state – this is an evolution that many have had over the past decade, and one which many will continue to have in the months and years to come. We believe in Gabbard’s commitment to our community, and to helping heal and move our state forward on issues of marriage equality.”

The complete list of endorsements:

1st Congressional District (urban Oahu):
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa

2nd Congressional District (rural Oahu, neighbor islands):
Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard
Former Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chief Advocate Esther Kia’aina

U.S. Senate:
U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono
Former Congressman Ed Case

19 Responses to “Evolution”

  1. Goober:

    From an amoeba that can split in two to make more.
    To some animals that are asexual and does not need another.

  2. Timeless:

    I’m also impressed by Tulsi Gabbard’s evolution on the social issues. In this case, it looks like the apple is falling far away from the tree. She’s a top-notch public servant so I think she will be effective in Congress. It’s also important that she’s young and has plenty of years to build seniority in Congress, so that she will have more influence to help our state.

  3. Alex:

    Interesting they didn’t endorse Mufi. I guess they couldn’t see how a bully could fight for equal rights.

  4. Chris S:

    I think it shows a lot of humility and sincerity that Tulsi Gabbard evolved on her views about different social issues. She is clearly her own person and will be a strong voice for Hawaii if she is elected to Congress. The fact that she has military experience is a huge plus given the wide range of military issues we face here
    In Hawaii that are affected by decisions made in Congress.

  5. Patricia Duffy:

    Equal rights always has, and always will be, one of the most important issues facing us. I think it’s awesome these candidates are all supporting equal rights. Tulsi Gabbard has my vote!

  6. Peter Ehrhorn:

    I’m sorry but from what I have heard Tulsi is still a member of Chris Butler’s sect of the Hari Christnas. I note the article says she now supports civil unions but nothing is said about marriage. No, I prefer a true democrat, Esther Kia’aina who was not afraid to take part in the candidate forum held at the democratic convention and has always held the correct views. Both Muffi and Tulsi lost my vote because they “couldn’t make it”. Esther was awesome in that forum. Shame it was not televised for all to see.

  7. Teddy Freddy:

    I don’t get it. Just because Tulsi and her family belong to a Hare Krishna cult, how is that different from being a deciple of Jesus? What difference does that make?

  8. Kolea:

    Equality Hawaii is facing a tough choice, but that should not cause them to shade the truth. As Peter Ehrhorn TRIED to say, Tulsi is a member of the Chris Butler Hare Krishna sect, as are many of her core campaign workers and financial contributors. And a long string of off-kilter local politicians going back over thirty years: Mike & Carol Gabbard, Rick Reed, Wayne Nishiki, Kathy Hoshijo.

    This group has been one of the most vociferous anti-gay groups in Hawaii. FOR DECADES! In 2010, while running for the city council, Tulsi told Local 5 she opposed civil unions. About a year ago, when Tulsi was first making sounds about running for congress, her mother said Tulsi was opposed to civil unions.

    Maybe Tulsi has sincerely changed her opinions on gay equality, on reproductive rights for women and no longer denounces anti-war activists as unpatriotic. But if this is true, why does she continue to get such unquestioning loyal service from the other members of the cult? Have THEY also changed THEIR views 180 degrees? Because these devotees of Chris Butler, who have provided turned out at Board of Education meetings and legislative hearings for years, have steadfastly denounced gays as perverted.

    If Equality Hawaii’s leaders are not troubled by this enigma, they are either not paying attention or are suppressing their suspicions out of their zeal to defeat Mufi Hanneman. It MAY make pragmatic sense to support Tulsi over Mufi, even over a MUCH more sincere supporter like Esther Kiaaina. (Or Rafael Del Castillo, Bob Marx). But, please, don’t throw your intellectual integrity out the window hand fawn over Tulsi..

  9. Kolea:

    @Teddy Freddy,

    It depends upon which Christian group you are talking about. There is nothing inherently wrong with being a Christian. Or a Hindu. Some Christians preach hatred and inequality, saying it is God’s will that gays burn in Hell. Others say the overriding message of Jesus is universal love for all people. So too with Hindus. Some preach there are many paths to wisdom and that all religions contain universal truths. Some preach hatred against Muslims, destroy mosques and massacre men, women and children. Some, like Butler’s Hare Krishnas, have been among the most divisive advocates in Hawaii against gay and lesbian equality, even opposing programs in the public school;s to protect gay teens from bullying.

    If a politician is a Christian, that does NOT mean they support a mission of hatred. If, they are a secret member of the Hillsboro Baptist Church, on the other hand, that is directly relevant and SHOULD be discussed by voters prior to the election. Chris Butler’s operation, in Hawaii, has been a lot like a Hindu variant of the Hillsboro Baptist Church.

  10. Ross:

    @ Kolea – Apparently Tulsi initiated contact with Equality Hawaii Action Fund (which is a separate organization from Equality Hawaii and has a separate board). It is my understanding that dialogue has been occuring between Tulsi and the board of EHAF for many months. Additionally, there has been consultation with other top political advisors on this.

    I was not involved in this process in anyway and have little inside information. What I do know is that many in the LGBT community as well as within the Equality Hawaii family organizations (there are three) have appropriate concerns about Tulsi’s suddent about face. That said, apparently they are taking a leap of faith and encouraging ongoing dialogue with politicians claiming to have evolved on LGBT issues. In the long-run, that is a good thing and something that we need to support, not punish.

    Can’t say myself if Tulsi’s transformation is real or just political. That said, I personally would much rather take a leap of faith on Tulsi and see her as my US Rep than Mufi. At least Tulsi is saying the right things now, has apologized for past anti-gay positions, and has pledged support of all the issues on the federal LGBT agenda.

    While I would much rather see someone like Kia’aina or Del Castillo win, realistically what chance do they really have? It is my understanding that Tulsi and Mufi are currently in a statistical tie and that one of them will be the next US Rep for the CD-2.

  11. Goober:

    Sad at the comments I have to tolerate.
    I guess being carefree has taken a new meaning.

  12. Kolea:


    Thanks for drawing the distinction between EH and the EH Action Fund. I HAVE talked with at least one EH board member who is unhappy with the endorsement of Tulsi.

    I can understand taking a leap of faith. But– in my view– we have to be careful in what we say about the candidates we endorse. We have all been burned by candidates we have whole-heartedly endorsed, only to have them, once elected, make unacceptable compromises or outright reversals.

    As you undoubtedly know, Tulsi is a very different politician than your typical candidate. As I have said, I can accept that an individual candidate may have “evolved” in their thinking towards a more tolerant view. But THAT description is inadequate when we know of her DEEP, lifelong involvement in the secretive Chris Butler political-economic-religious sect. The rest of the Butler Hare Krishna group continues to support her despite her apparent repudiation of some of their CORE political positions. How do we account for that? How can that give anyone in the LGBT community, especially people who aspire to political sophistication, enough confidence to VOUCH for her sincerity? We lose our own integrity when we go overboard and suppress these very valid concerns. And we participate in the suppression of Tulsi background story.

    Why the official media seems to be intent upon suppressing Tulsi’s life story– beyond her sanitized campaign biography– frustrates the heck out of me. I will agree with Teddy Freddy that there are some Christian groups who might fairly be characterized as “cults.” The C Street group, which includes both congress critters and US Senators, is an easy example. But for Hawaii politics, there is nothing equivalent to Chirs Butler’s strategy to place disciplined religious devotees into office. Since the 70s, they have been sign waving, going door to door and financing the campaigns of members to attain political office, starting with the Independents for Godly Government. Now, the are poised to have someone born and raised, in the cult her entire life, to (maybe) win a congressional seat. And the press is not interested in covering the story.

    To see Equality Hawaii, in whatever incarnation, participate in the cover-up and actively VOUCH for Tulsi’s “evolution,” is extremely disturbing. Whatever the pragmatic considerations of defeating Mufi Hanneman. Heck, Mufi’s gonna run for the US Senate at the first opportunity. Maybe it makes more sense to defeat him then rather to help launch the career of this young Butlerite who will be a force for many decades after Mufi’s star has faded IF she wins.

  13. Goober:

    The so called experts, missionaries speak.

  14. Ross:

    @ Kolea – I hear you on this. You make very valid points that give one much food for thought.
    I myself was surprised by the endorsement and only learned of it after receiving the endorsement email from Equality Hawaii Action Fund. I am just trying to offer a more optimistic perspective. I know all the players on the boards of all three Equality Hawaii organizations, especially the PAC (Action Fund). They are solid people. If I had a say in the matter, which I didn’t, I don’t know what my opinion would have been. I wish I had the opportunity myself to sit down face to face with Tulsi and interview her myself.
    I have written to her campaign and have not received a response.

  15. Ross:

    Ps @ Kolea

    The handful of people in the LGBT community who are having a strong negative reaction to this endorsement and initiating “flame wars” on Facebook, I do wonder if they have ever sat down with Tulsi and spoken to her? Or do they just judge her because of her family name, upbringing, and an anti-civil union testimony she delivered at the legislature in 2004?”

    Many of our strongest allies today were actually opposed to us just a few short years ago. The percentage of public support for LGBT equality and civil rights has grown dramatically in just the past 2 years.

    I do give her credit, it this change is genuine, it certainly must create a challenge in her relationship with her father (and it must be driving him nuts…. Which is wonderful!)

  16. Goober:

    Many don’t agree but tolerate.
    The carefree becoming bullies since they were bullied once upon a time.
    Couldn’t careless.

    Shut the front door.

  17. Kolea:


    Your last comment suggests you are sidestepping Tulsi longterm and continued involvement with the Butler cult. Her “evolution” on gay rights is not “driving her father nuts.” It is a conscious choice, made with the agreement of the group, made in order to make her more electable.

    I am not sure why you think the evidence of Tusli’s hostility to gay rights depends upon her testimony of 2004. She actively opposed civil unions as recently as her 2010 county council race. In fact, there was no “evidence” of her evolution until AFTER she started her congressional campaign.

    To dismiss peoples’ concerns about Tulsi’s views by attributing it to a bias against her “family name” is pretty superficial a criticism. Her mother and father were TOP advocates against gay rights for decades and Tulsi joined in anti-gay activism as an adult.

    I fully recognize the thinking of individuals evolve. Even the thinking of political, religious groups. But since Tulsi remains an obedient devotee to Jagad Guru and there is absolutely no sign Jagad Guru has had a new revelation from Krishna to reverse his years of hostility to gay rights, and Tusi’s campaign remains powered largely by volunteers from the cult, it is much more reasonable– if we are relying upon evidence rather than a “leap of faith”– to doubt the sincerity of Tulsi’s “evolution.” I don’t care how many “face-to-face” talks one might have with her. She has not broken with Chris. On this or on other things. Though she may have gotten a dispensation to campaign on this marketing strategy.

  18. Goober:

    lingle evolved.

  19. Goober:

    Certain people who comment bring forth the meaning of bipartisan.

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