Tulsi Gabbard began her career in local Hawaiian politics as a conservative and a virulent homophobe... from a family whose name stands for deranged hatred of the LGBTQ community. When she was in the state legislature, she led the fight against marriage equality. She joined the New Dems when she got to Congress, quickly ran up an F rating from ProgtressivePunch. Eventually she got into a nasty rivalry with Debbie Wasserman Schultz that resulted, bizarrely, in her endorsing Bernie followed by a years-long progressive masquerade. She never fooled anyone who had a clue about who she is.
Now that Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm is no longer in Congress, virtually all of her colleagues will be happy to see her depart for good next month, when she hopes to go back to Hawaii to run for governor. But before she can't, she had one last bill to introduce-- one she worked up with Oklahoma neo-fascist Markwayne Mullin. The hate bill has no cosponsors yet, although, presumably, gay-hating Republicans will soon figure out they can jump on Tulsi's bandwagon. What's she's trying to do is define Title IX protections for female athletes as strictly based on biological, singling out transgender women in a way that is considered transphobic.
Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler has a similar bill pending in the Senate. Were the bills passed and signed into law-- virtual impossibility-- federal funding would be denied to any schools that "permit[s] a person whose biological sex at birth is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls."
What makes this even more repulsive to Hawaiians is that Title IX is the landmark legislation championed by the state's late, great and revered progressive icon Patsy Mink to give girls and women equal access to high school and college sports. In a Honolulu Star-Advertiser poll just before the election, voters gave Gabbard the lowest approval rating by far of any of Hawaii’s four congressional members-- a dismal 44% approval. During her non-starter presidential run she tried to distance herself from anti-gay past and fed me the same line of bullshit she told everyone else, that she was transformed while serving in the military.
She credited prior anti-gay positions on her upbringing. Her father is former city Councilman and current state Sen. Mike Gabbard (D, Kapolei-Makakilo), who had run for Congress as a Republican. Her mother, Carol Gabbard, won a seat on the state Board of Education in 2000 over objections from gay-rights activists.
But one of Tulsi Gabbard’s final bills representing Hawaii in Congress reveals that her time in Washington “was more about her career and fame than representing her constituents,” said Colin Moore, a University of Hawaii associate professor of political science and director of UH’s Public Policy Center. “That’s why she’s so unpopular, because her supporters feel like they were used.”
Moore said that Gabbard’s Title IX bill has no chance of being passed in the Democratic-controlled House, belies the will of the majority of rural Oahu and neighbor island constituents she represents, and is likely, instead, intended to set her up for a possible career as a right-leaning commentator.
“Why she would choose this as her last piece of legislation that her name would be associated with, I find it a little inexplicable,” Moore said. “She spent a lot of her presidential campaign trying to repair her relationship with the LGBTQ community. This obviously won’t help. It’s the enigma of Tulsi Gab- bard… We’re talking about a very small number of people this would apply to. Given the enormity of all of the other problems, I’m not sure this is the thing that our member of Congress needs to be paying attention to.”
To social conservatives on the mainland, Moore said the Title IX bill would make Gabbard “look like a hero. She used to have social conservative credentials and is apparently returning to them.”
At the same time, Moore said, the Title IX bill announced Friday “would basically end your career as a Democrat. What is Tulsi Gabbard’s next move is a favorite parlor game.”
UPDATE: Mark Takano
Mark Takano (D-CA) is one of the chairs of the House LGBTQ Equality Caucus and he didn't find Tulsi's little stunt amusing at all. After the Caucus put out a statement on Friday, he told me tonight that he "will not tolerate efforts that target the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community-- I condemn them. The legislation introduced by Rep. Gabbard is simply transphobic, discriminatory, and harmful. As a co-Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, I will fight back against any policies that threaten trans people, their safety, and their ability to live a full, dignified life. Hate has no place in the People’s House-- I stand firmly with the trans community and oppose this legislation."