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The first forum of two LGBTQ issue-based political panels was held over the weekend. How did the candidates fair?

For LGBTQ folks, queer issues are not the only issues at hand when it comes to deciding the future leader of these here United States. For some, in fact, it’s at the lower end of the list of what’s most important when it comes to politics and democracy. Still, we can all admit that these issues do matter, because while our queerness does not define us, it is something that we carry with us every single day. View it as a burden or a blessing, being queer is still an issue.

Over the weekend, on Friday, September 20, GLAAD, the Advocate, the Cedar-Rapids Gazette, and One Iowa held a forum for 2020 presidential candidates to take to the stage and specifically discuss LGTBQ issues. OUT FRONT reported last week that two of the twelve candidates would be scheduled no-shows: Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang.

The remaining ten, Marianne Williamson, Joe Sestak, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and Julian Castro all took to the stage to discuss their records on issues affecting the LGBTQ community.

Highlighting topics to the 700-person crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the candidates took on topics like the Trump administration’s transgender military ban, conversion therapy, protections for gender-nonconforming people, and court cases involving businesses that decline to cater to queer customers on religious grounds.

Those who watched the three-hour forum unfold learned a few things about the candidates present:

Cory Booker wants to be the first “woke” president on LGBTQ issues and has plans for a more comprehensive approach.

Joe Biden was put on the spot with hard questions about his positions on Obama policies and is still a top runner, though many still doubt his ability to respectfully address women.

Elizabeth Warren wants to continue to show her support for the trans community of color, and did so by reading aloud the names of trans women who have been killed so far this year.

Pete Buttigieg has faced discrimination as a gay man, unable to donate blood to his own country because of the FDA policy prohibiting men from donating blood if they’ve had sex with another man within the past year.

Kamala Harris has promised to appoint an LGBTQ-friendly vice president and is now in favor of inmates being given permission to proceed with gender affirming surgeries.

Tulsi Gabbard briefly spoke of ending workplace discrimination but mostly used her time to further discuss the topics she’s most comfortable with: the U.S. military.

Julian Castro would ensure that HUD could not implement a rule change that would stop allow discrimination against homeless shelters with a religious exemption.

Marianne Williamson still defends the work she did during the AIDS crisis as a self-help guru with promoting the power of positive thinking for those who were dying of the illness.

Joe Sustak spoke of the need to enforce the banning of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policies in the military and how generals and higher-ups need to be taken to task if discrimination still exists.

Amy Klobuchar promised to pass the Equality Act and said she would appoint a trans-friendly secretary of education to combat bullying and stigma.

While critics like the Washington Examiner‘s Brad Polumbo took to calling the forum “virtue signaling” and “crazy,” and called moderator Lyz Lenz a “snowflake” for saying Biden’s calling her “sweetheart” was “a little condescending,” we understand that LGBTQ rights are human rights. Due to the fact that we are intersectional by nature as well as daily marginalized and discriminated against, the need for forums and discussions like this are even more important.

Though tensions are high and call-outs are quick, as queer folks, we must at the very least agree on one thing; we deserve the same freedoms and protections as our straight, cis counterparts.