My LGBTQ+ Statement
In my past I said and believed things that were wrong, and worse, hurtful to the LGBTQ+ community and their loved ones.
Many years ago, I apologized for my words and, more importantly, the negative impact that they had. I sincerely repeat my apology today. I remain deeply sorry for having said them. My views have changed significantly since then, and my record over the last 6 years in Congress reflects what is in my heart: A strong and ongoing commitment to fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
I also want you to know I’ve taken these past few days to listen. I hear your questions, fears, and concerns, and want to reassure my LGBTQ+ friends and their communities about my firm commitment to fight for and champion equality.
I know that LGBTQ+ people still struggle, still face discrimination, still face abuse and still fear that their hard-won rights will be taken away by people who hold views like I used to. This must not happen. Every single American deserves to be treated equally — by their fellow Americans and under the law. I will continue to fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ people, whether they’re in school or serving in uniform, in need of healthcare, caring for their family, or looking for a home.
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. I also grew up in a socially conservative household, and 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.
While many Americans can relate to growing up in a conservative household, my story is unique in some ways. My father was outspoken and an activist fighting against gay rights and marriage equality in Hawaii — at that time, I forcefully defended him and his cause. But as I grew up, I formed my own opinions based on my life experience that significantly changed my views — at a personal level in truly having aloha, love and respect, for all people, and making sure that every American, regardless of sexual orientation, is treated equally under the law.
I look forward to sharing more of my story and experiences growing up — not as an excuse — but in the hopes that my story can also inspire others to truly live aloha; to love and care for others.
When we deny LGBTQ+ people the basic rights that exist for every American, we are denying their humanity- denying that they are equal. We are also creating an environment that breeds discrimination and violence. When we divide people based on who they are or who they love, we fuel the flames that perpetuate bigotry and hatred.
I’m grateful to my friends and loved ones, gay and straight, who patiently helped me see how my past position on this issue was at odds with my values, my aloha, and how it was causing others harm. I regret the role I played in causing such pain, and remain deeply committed to fight for equality.
I believe in people, our ability to love, respect, forgive, and change. The ability to change hearts and minds on the issues that matter to the American people is at the core of every movement for positive change throughout our nation’s history. I am an example of a person who has grown and changed, for the better. I also know I’m not alone in having evolved in my views as I was exposed to events and people that influenced my life. I’m not alone in being part of a family that I love deeply, but who I disagree with on certain issues, large or small.
The question posed by many over the past few days is how I can answer for my past. I do so through my actions, now and in the future.
If you are someone who opposes LGBTQ+ equality, it is my hope that you will listen to my story, and consider with an open heart the way your beliefs and actions might be impacting others. I also hope that you will reflect on the guarantee of equality enshrined in our constitution, that so many have sacrificed to defend.
If you are an LGBTQ+ person who is hurting because of discrimination, I want to you to know that I see you. Your dignity, your humanity, and your equality matter, and I will fight every day to protect them.
Thank you all so much for listening. Mahalo.