One of the Democratic presidential debates in the run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination will be devoted exclusively to LGBTQ issues.
According to an exclusive report from The Advocate, the debate will be hosted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) and the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs on October 10, 2019. That date is also the evening of National Coming Out Day.
Gary Segura, dean of UCLA Luskin School, celebrated the decision, enthusing, “The Luskin School of Public Affairs is dedicated to enhancing the well-being of all Americans through an informed electorate and educated social leaders. We are beyond excited to partner with the Human Rights Campaign in raising LGBTQ issues and the policy stances of candidates to greater public attention in this cycle. UCLA is the perfect host for this conversation.”
HRC President Chad Griffin told The Advocate, “Millions of LGBTQ people will have their rights on the ballot in 2020 — but today we are also a powerful voting bloc that will help determine the outcome.” He added, “If any LGBTQ person were to take a cross-country drive from HRC headquarters in Washington, D.C., to UCLA’s campus, their rights and protections under the law would change dozens of times at every city line and state border.”
The Advocate reports that subjects to be discussed will include “conversion therapy” restrictions, hate crime threats and transgender rights.
To be eligible to participate in the debate, a candidate must poll 1% or more in at least three national polls, or obtain 65,000 donations from different people in 20 states.
The HRC Foundation has hosted forums for presidential candidates before, including 2003, when John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun, Howard Dean, Al Sharpton, Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt debated, and 2008, when Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson debated.
In 2003, the moderator was ABC News’ Sam Donaldson, who asked each candidate if they supported gay marriage. Kerry said he was against gay marriage but in favor of ”civil unions”; Lieberman, Gephardt and Dean agreed. Dean, as governor of Vermont, had already signed the nation’s first law permitting same-sex civil unions. Sharpton and Kucinich openly supported gay marriage.
President George W. Bush opposed gay marriage; GOP Senate leader Bill Frist had pushed for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Frist reminded reporters that President Bill Clinton had signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law. Frist said, ”The restatement of that is that marriage is very simple: a union between one man and one woman, not two men or three men or four men, or one man — or one woman — or two women, three women, or three women and three men. It’s not that. It’s one man, one woman. It’s what the law of the land is. I will support that.”
At one point, Kerry stated, ”marriage is viewed as a union between men and women.” That elicited hisses from the audience, prompting him to add, “That is a historical, cultural view,” triggering more hisses. He shrugged, answering, ”That’s my opinion.”
In the 2007 forum, Hillary Clinton said she was opposed to gay marriage, stating she was a “strong supporter of letting the states maintain their jurisdiction over marriage.” Barack Obama did not support gay marriage, saying, “I don’t make promises I can’t keep.”