Gerald Michael Gabbard (born January 15, 1948) is an American politician, serving as the Hawaii State Senator for District 21 from the Democratic party, since 2006. Gabbard rose to prominence for efforts to prevent same-sex marriage in Hawai'i by passing a 1998 amendment to the Constitution of Hawaii to give the state legislature "the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples" under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Gabbard, who was born in American Samoa, is the first person of Samoan descent to serve in the Hawaii Senate.

Mike Gabbard
Member of the Hawaii Senate
Assumed office
November 2006
Preceded byBrian Kanno
Constituency19th district (2007–2012)
20th district (2012–2022)
21st district (2022–present)
Member of the Honolulu City Council
from the 1st district
In office
Preceded byRene Mansho
Succeeded byTodd Kala Apo
Personal details
Gerald Michael Gabbard

(1948-01-15) January 15, 1948 (age 76)
Fagatogo, American Samoa
Political partyIndependent (before 2004)
Republican (2004–2007)
Democratic (2007–present)
Children5, including Tulsi
WebsiteOfficial website

His daughter, Tulsi Gabbard, served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Hawaii's second congressional district from 2013 to 2021 and was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

Early life and education


Gabbard was born on January 15, 1948, in Fagatogo, American Samoa, one of eight children of Aknesis Agnes (Yandall) and Benjamin Harrison Gabbard, Jr, a Samoan of American ancestry.[citation needed] Mike Gabbard is of Samoan and European descent from both his maternal and paternal ancestry.[citation needed] He was a U.S. citizen from birth because of his father's U.S. citizenship.[a][2] Gabbard lived in Hawaii as a child[3] and graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. He studied at and obtained a degree in English from Sonoma State College in 1971.[3] He earned a master's degree in community college administration from Oregon State University.[3][4]

Early career


In the 1970s and early 1980s, Gabbard taught high school English in American Samoa and was a guidance counselor and later Assistant Dean of Instruction, and Dean of Adult and Community Education at American Samoa Community College.[5] He also worked as a head tennis pro at the Kuilima Hyatt Resort on the North Shore of O'ahu in the mid 1970s.[3]

From 1983 to 1987, Gabbard and his wife Carol established the Ponomauloa School in Wahiawa, Hawaii, where he worked as headmaster and teacher; it closed after five years.[3][4][6]

From 1988 to 1992, Gabbard and his wife owned The Natural Deli, a vegetarian restaurant within Moiliili, Hawaii's Down to Earth Natural Food Store.[3][7] Gabbard closed the restaurant following picketing by activists after Gabbard said on his self-funded radio show, "Let's Talk Straight Hawaii", on K-108, that "If [two applicants] were both the same, then I would take the one that is not homosexual."[7]

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Gabbard and his wife worked for state Senator Rick Reed.[3]

In the early 1990s, Gabbard and his wife were listed as teachers for the Science of Identity Foundation.[3]

Gabbard and his wife later started Hawaiian Toffee Treasures, a candy company in Honolulu.[8][9]



Opposition to LGBT rights


Gabbard became an anti-homosexual activist before the same-sex marriage debate took hold in Hawaii.[3] Between 1991 and 1996, Gabbard founded the organizations Stop Promoting Homosexuality Hawaii (renamed Stop Promoting Homosexuality International), Stop Promoting Homosexuality America, and the Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values.[10] Gabbard became well-known for his advocacy for Hawaii Constitutional Amendment 2 (1998). This amendment, approved by voters 69.2%–28.6%,[11] gave the state legislature "the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples" under the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed by Bill Clinton in 1996.[12][3][13]

Other activism


Shortly after 9/11, Gabbard founded Stand Up For America (SUFA), a non-profit educational organization.[14]

In 2007, Gabbard co-founded the non-profit Aloha Parenting Project (APP) with his wife Carol.[15]

Political career


Gabbard was elected to the Honolulu City Council in a nonpartisan race in 2002.[16]

In 2004, he ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the Second Congressional District of Hawaii in the United States House of Representatives, losing to state Representative Ed Case.[17]

On March 21, 2006, Gabbard announced his plans to run for the Hawaii State Senate in West Oahu's District 19, after 14-year incumbent Senator Brian Kanno decided not to run for reelection.[18] 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.[19] Gabbard, who was born in American Samoa, became the first person of Samoan descent to serve in the Hawaii Senate.[20]

On August 30, 2007, Gabbard switched from the Republican Party of Hawaii to the Democratic Party of Hawaii.[21] 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.[22]

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.[23] Gabbard served as the Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee from 2009 to 2015, which culminated 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.[24]

On November 6, 2012, Gabbard defeated Republican candidate Dean Capelouto, 72% to 28%, to represent the newly reapportioned Hawaii State Senate District 20.[23]

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.[23]

Political positions


Gabbard opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions. He believes marriage should only be between a man and a woman.[25]

In 2016, while serving as the Chair of the Water, Land, and Agriculture Committee, Gabbard authored a bill banning the sale of parts and products of endangered species.[26]

In 2018, Gabbard authored legislation that enacted a statewide ban on sunscreens that contained the controversial chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate.[27] The bill also included a ban on the pesticide chlorpyrifos, and upon enactment, Hawaii became the first state to ban the substance.[28][29]

In 2021, Gabbard reintroduced the Hawaii Cruelty Free Cosmetics Act, which passed the Hawaii State Legislature and would make Hawaii the sixth state to ban cosmetic animal testing, after having previously introduced the bill in 2018.[30] He received Cruelty Free International's May 2021 award for Legislator of the Month.[31] He also introduced and passed SCR44, a resolution which made Hawaii the first state to declare a "climate emergency".[32]

He is currently the Chair of the Agriculture and Environment Committee.[33]

Personal life


Gabbard is married.[34] A socially conservative Catholic, Gabbard serves as a lector at St. Jude Catholic Church in Makakilo, Hawaii.[35][36][37] Mike's daughter Tulsi Gabbard is a politician . In the 1970s, Gabbard and his wife became devotees of Chris Butler, whom they called Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, who founded the Science of Identity Foundation; Gabbard's sister Caroline, described it as the "alt-right of the Hare Krishna movement." Gabbard became vegetarian and gave his children Hindu names.[38] Caroline died in a stabbing on the 26 May 2024. [39]


  1. ^ "Section 301(e) Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for acquisition of U.S. citizenship by birth in outlying possessions to one U.S. citizen parent who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year at any time prior to the birth of such person."[1]


  1. ^ "U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual". June 27, 2018. Ch. 8 Passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad § 302.5 Acquisition by Birth in American Samoa and Swains Island. Archived from the original on July 19, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2019.
  2. ^ "About Mike Gabbard". Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Bolante, Ronna (August 1, 2004). "Who is Mike Gabbard?". Honolulu Magazine. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Dunford, Bruce (May 23, 2004). "Case and Gabbard turn to grass roots in congressional race". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. p. A13.
  5. ^ "Mike Gabbard's biography: professional experience". Vote Smart. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  6. ^ "Mike's Biographical Information |". Archived from the original on December 6, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Tanahara, Kris (February 10, 1992). "Moiliili restaurant picketed by gay rights group closes". The Honolulu Advertiser. p. 21.
  8. ^ Woletz, Bob (April 10, 2015). "A Love of Surfing Leads to a Proposal". The New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  9. ^ Shapiro, Treena (May 21, 2014). "What Else Does Your Hawaii Lawmaker Do For a Living?". Honolulu Magazine. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  10. ^ Multiple sources:
  11. ^ General Election 1998, Hawaii Office of Elections, November 3, 1998, retrieved July 6, 2010
  12. ^ "For better or worse". October 26, 1998. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  13. ^ "Hawaii Legislative Power to Reserve Marriage, Question 2 (1998)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  14. ^ "About Us". Archived from the original on February 29, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  15. ^ "About Mike Gabbard". Archived from the original on December 19, 2018. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  16. ^ Shapiro, Treena (November 6, 2002). "Ex-legislators predominate City Council". The Honolulu Advertiser. p. A-5.
  17. ^ Dunford, Bruce (May 23, 2004). "Case and Gabbard turn to grass roots in congressional race". Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
  18. ^ DePledge, Derrick (May 5, 2006). "Kanno won't seek re-election to Senate". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  19. ^ "Gabbard Takes The Oath of Office at Hawaii State Senate". Press Releases. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  20. ^ Sorensen, Sam (2008). "The Samoan Historical Calendar 1606-2007" (PDF). Office of the Governor American Samoa Government. p. 272. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 19, 2010. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  21. ^ "DePledge, Derrick (August 31, 2007) "Sen. Gabbard bolts GOP for Democratic Party," Honolulu Star-Advertiser retrieved 2018-10-16".
  22. ^ Au, Laurie (August 31, 2007), "Signing ceremony turns Gabbard into Democrat", Honolulu Star-Bulletin, retrieved April 28, 2009
  23. ^ a b c "Mike Gabbard". Ballotpedia. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  24. ^ Stuart H. Coleman (April 1, 2016). "The Politics of Power".
  25. ^ Hamada, Rick (June 24, 2011). "5 Questions with NEWSmaker Senator Mike Gabbard". HawaiiReporter. YouTube. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  26. ^ Marina Starleaf Riker (March 27, 2016). "Ivory merchants in Hawaii may be forced to close". Washington Post.
  27. ^ "SB2571 SD2 HD2 CD1". July 6, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  28. ^ "SB3095 SD1 HD1 CD1". June 14, 2018. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  29. ^ "Hawaii law bans use of pesticide". Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. KHON2. June 13, 2018. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  30. ^ Rabb, Maxwell (May 3, 2021). "Hawaii Becomes the Sixth US State to Ban Cosmetic Animal Testing". 92.9 NIN. Retrieved May 6, 2021 – via KNIN-FM (Wichita Falls).
  31. ^ "Hawaii Lawmaker is our May Legislator of the Month". Cruelty Free International. May 2, 2021. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  32. ^ Kelley, Alexandra (April 29, 2021). "Hawaii to become the first state to declare climate emergency". TheHill. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  33. ^ "Legislative Members". Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  34. ^ "Mike's Life". Senator Mike Gabbard. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  35. ^ "Mike Gabbard's Biographical Information". Archived from the original on December 6, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  36. ^ Yilek, Caitlin (January 20, 2019). "Tulsi Gabbard's father: 'I never realized how much trauma I put her through'". Washington Examiner. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  37. ^ Weig, Nick (January 16, 2019). "PROFILE: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard". KGAN. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  38. ^ Howley, Kerry (June 11, 2019). "Tulsi Gabbard Had a Very Strange Childhood". New York Magazine. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  39. ^
Political offices
Preceded by
Rene Mansho
Member of the Honolulu City Council
from the 1st district

Succeeded by
Todd Kala Apo
Hawaii Senate
Preceded by
Brian Kanno
Member of the Hawaii Senate
from the 19th district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the Hawaii Senate
from the 20th district