Democratic presidential candidate forums to focus on LGBTQ issues

Democratic Presidential Candidates

LGBTQ Americans have encountered more than 124 anti-LGBTQ attacks in policy and rhetoric from the Trump Administration. Image: Rob Sheridan.

Two Democratic presidential candidate forums will be devoted exclusively to LGBTQ issues, and one of them will be historic  — The first time a major network will broadcast a presidential candidate town hall on LGBTQ topics.

The discussions occur as the 2020 presidential election conversation has kept LGBTQ issues in the closet during nationally televised events, even though the community is under attack from the Trump Administration.

Trump attacks

LGBTQ Americans have encountered more than 124 anti-LGBTQ attacks in policy and rhetoric from the Trump Administration, including the President’s ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military, the administration’s opposition to the Equality Act, and the administration’s efforts to ban HIV positive service members.

The first forum will take place Friday and be live streamed on YouTube from Coe College’s Sinclair Auditorium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from 5 to 7 p.m. PST.

The forum is sponsored by GLAAD, One Iowa, The Gazette, and The Advocate.

Confirmed participants:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • U.S. Senator Cory Booker
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro
  • U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard
  • U.S. Senator Kamala Harris
  • U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar
  • Former Pennsylvania representative Joe Sestak
  • U.S Senator Elizabeth Warren
  • Author Marianne Williamson

Each candidate will give an opening statement regarding LGBTQ issues and take questions from three moderators: Advocate editor-in-chief Zach Stafford, Gazette columnist Lyz Lenz, and One Iowa policy director Kennan Crow.

CNN LGBTQ town hall

The second forum will be broadcast on CNN October 10 from 4 to 8 p.m. PST and take place at The Novo Theater in downtown Los Angeles.

The network has partnered with the Human Rights Campaign to host the town hall format, which will be similar to CNN’s climate change forum earlier this month.

Each candidate will be interviewed by a CNN moderator and take questions from the live audience.

“Our community is at a crossroads, and we must identify a leader who can defeat the anti-LGBTQ Trump-Pence ticket and reverse their many attacks on LGBTQ people,” Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign president, said in a statement. “Given the high number of candidates participating, this event is poised to help us do just that.”

Nine of the 11 qualifying candidates have confirmed their participation:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro
  • U.S. Sen. Cory Booker
  • U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris
  • U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke
  • Businessman Tom Steyer
  • U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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