The first LGBT forum for the 2020 Democratic candidates took place in Cedar Rapids a couple days ago, hosted by GLAAD. The forum allowed candidates to address issues pertinent to the LGBTQ+ community. Candidates whose statements echoed with the sentiment of the people included Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, and Elizabeth Warren. Former Vice President Joe Biden was there, as well, but made some remarks that left people confused, and Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist Lyz Lenz challenged Biden on his views. Lenz had asked Biden to comment on his past support of anti-LGBT agenda actions, such as his voting for the 1990 bill that encouraged the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as his mentioning that Vice President Mike Pence (known to be actively anti-LGBT) was a “decent guy.” To these events mentioned, Biden ambiguously called Lenz “a lovely person,” to which she replied, “Just asking the questions the people want to know.” After fumbling for a hold on the topic and the audience, Biden finally defended that he knew he “had to evolve,” and outlined his plan to support the Equality Act, undo Trump’s reversal of Obama’s LGBT actions, and to work to “ban conversion therapy.”
Cory Booker was met with support from the audience when he stated, “It’s about time that we have a woke president on these issues and every day is using their platforms to inspire and ignite justice, compassion, a more courageous empathy, a revival of civic grace so that everyone for the equal dignity and equal citizenship that we all have.” Elizabeth Warren took the opportunity in her speech to list the names of the transgender women who were killed this year, and Buttigieg emphasized the LGBT community’s power to “cut across wide swaths of groups in America.
This was the first of two major 2020 election candidate forums addressing LGBTQ+ issues. The next will be hosted by the Human Rights Campaign in Los Angeles in October.