|Intro||Samoan American politician|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||15 January 1948, Fagatogo, Maoputasi County, Eastern District, USA|
|Politics||Democratic Party, Republican Party|
Gerald Michael Gabbard (born January 15, 1948) is an American politician and a Democratic member of the Hawaii Senate. He has represented State Senate District 20 since 2006. Gabbard rose to prominence for his successful effort to pass a 1998 amendment to the Constitution of Hawaii to give the state legislature "the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples". Gabbard, who was born in American Samoa, is the first person of Samoan descent to serve in the Hawaii Senate. His daughter, Tulsi Gabbard, is the U.S. Representative for Hawaii's 2nd district and has announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President in 2020.
Life and pre-political career
Gabbard was born on January 15, 1948, in Fagatogo, American Samoa, the fourth of seven children of Aknesis Agnes (Yandall) and Benjamin Harrison Gabbard, Jr, a Samoan of American ancestry. Thus, Mike Gabbard is of Samoan and European descent. He was a U.S. citizen from birth because of his father’s U.S. citizenship.
In 1995, Gabbard founded the nonprofit Stop Promoting Homosexuality America, which filed for the trade name Alliance For Traditional Marriage, "to educate the general public about the necessity of preserving traditional marriage". Gabbard served as president until the organization's involuntary dissolution in 2004. He became well-known for his advocacy for Hawaii Constitutional Amendment 2 (1998), an amendment that gave the state legislature "the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples". As of June 2011, Gabbard was still against same-sex marriage and civil unions. In 2011, Gabbard asserted in a Hawai'i State Senate floor speech that government should get out of the marriage business altogether.
In 1996, Gabbard and his daughter, Tulsi, formed the Healthy Hawai'i Coalition (HHC). The HHC is a non-profit group whose twofold purpose is to protect the environment and to improve individual and community health.
Shortly after 9/11, Gabbard became the founder/chairman of Stand Up For America, a non-profit educational organization that promotes patriotism and aims to "increase our awareness of our identity as citizens of one nation under God." SUFA maintained public Christmas lights displays in 2004 and in 2006 that specifically celebrated the Christian origins of Christmas, "as a reminder of what the Christmas season is really all about." The Stand Up For America website came under criticism in September 2010 for promoting Gabbard's daughter's campaign for the Honolulu City Council, and SUFA took down a page in question.
In 2007, Gabbard co-founded the Aloha Parenting Project (APP) with his wife Carol. APP is a grassroots non-profit organization that educates, supports, and helps parents raise children to become responsible, productive members of the community. SUFA hosted internationally-renowned child psychologist John Rosemond at an APP event on November 6, 2007.
Political career and related activities
Gabbard was elected to the Honolulu City Council in a nonpartisan race in 2002. In 2004, he ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the Second Congressional District of Hawaii in the United States House of Representatives.
On March 21, 2006, Gabbard announced his plans to run for the Hawaii State Senate in West Oahu's District 19, a seat then held by 14-year incumbent Senator Brian Kanno, who decided not to run for reelection. On November 7, 2006, Gabbard defeated retired Honolulu police captain George Yamamoto by a 56% to 44% margin to represent the district in the Hawaii State Senate. Gabbard was sworn in on January 17, 2007. Gabbard, who was born in American Samoa, became the first person of Samoan descent to serve in the Hawaii Senate.
On August 30, 2007, Gabbard switched from the Republican Party of Hawaii to the Democratic Party of Hawaii. His stated reason for doing so was that he believed that he could be more effective to his constituents as part of the majority party in the State Senate, where Democrats have long had a supermajority. This switch in parties has been of some controversy, including repeated complaints regarding his opposition to the Democratic Party of Hawai'i's platform, and possible actions that may impact other Democrats. Ultimately, the Democratic Party chose not to reprimand Gabbard.
On November 2, 2010, Gabbard was re-elected for a second term to the Hawaii State Senate after defeating Republican Aaron Bonar by a 74% to 26% margin. He was the Chair of the Energy & Environment Committee from 2009 to 2015, culminating with his leadership on the passage of a first-in-the-nation law to require Hawaii utilities to get 100% of their electricity from clean renewable energy sources by 2045.
On November 6, 2012, Gabbard defeated Republican candidate Dean Capelouto, 72% to 28%, to represent the newly reapportioned Hawaii State Senate District 20.
During the 2016 election cycle, Gabbard was unopposed and was re-elected to the Hawaii State Senate for a four-year term on November 8, 2016.
In 2016, Gabbard was Chair of the Water, Land, and Agriculture Committee, where he authored a law that bans the sale of any part or product of endangered species, such as elephant ivory. He is currently the Chair of the Agriculture and Environment Committee and is focused on increasing local food production, implementing his initiative to establish an industrial hemp pilot program under the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture, and protecting the environment. In 2018, he authored and helped pass legislation to impose a first-of-its-kind statewide ban on sunscreens containing the controversial chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. Gabbard also advocated for a law banning the pesticide chlorpyrifos; when it was signed, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to enact a chlorpyrifos ban.
Since being elected in 2006, Gabbard has authored 36 bills that became law, including legislation related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, endangered species protection, industrial hemp, the environment, and public safety.