Coe College plays host to historic
LGBTQ Presidential Candidate Forum
By Julia Freeman
October 2019On Friday, September 20, 2019 inside Sinclair Auditorium on the campus of Coe College the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) issues were at the forefront of the first public event of the 2020 election cycle with a forum exclusively around them on the campus of Coe College in Cedar Rapids. With questions and answers from candidates for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, a trio of the event sponsors made of the moderator crew for the event. The Gazette was represented by columnist Liz Lenz, Buzzfeed/The Advocate’s editor in chief Zach Stafford, and One Iowa Policy Director Keenan Crow cycled through interviewing the ten participating candidates. Angelica Ross, of ‘Pose,’ made history as the first trans person to host a presidential forum. ‘Queer Eye’ star Karamo Brown also made an appearance, along with country singer Billy Graham singing the national anthem in front of a sold-out crowd.
Marianne Williamson was the first candidate to participate as her primary message was that special and equal protection was needed for the LGBTQ community. Joe Sestak spoke about the common mission to remove the military ban on trans persons. Next to the stage was Joe Biden to articulated the courage it took and takes for LGBTQ people to come out and how the country owes a gigantic debt of thanks to those that participated in Stonewall.
A key part of the forum was Cory Booker lifting up Stafford as the two greeted each other on stage. Booker then highlighted his record of proudly raising the Pride flag publicly in 2006 at Newark, New Jersey’s City Hall during his time there as the mayor. Tulsi Gabbard shared the aloha meaning, as well as highlight the true cost of wars to and for the country. Kamala Harris spoke about allocating federal resources to put into places where youth can thrive as her means of investing in the future generations.
Pete Buttigieg, with husband, Chasten watching from the auditorium crowd, reminded the audience of the importance of the forum’s date is the eighth anniversary of the federal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy being overturned. Amy Klobuchar spoke to the importance of assault weapon bans and the issue of gun violence in response to Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf’s question about her plan to address the threat. Elizabeth Warren read aloud each transwoman of color’s name that has been murdered in the country to date and how the current administration is robbing the country of wealth and dignity. Julian Castro believes that there are no second class citizens, including members of the LGBTQ community.
Ross kicked off the forum with a captivating speech that set the tone for the remainder of the night about the importance of black trans lives and that 19 lives lost are too many in this year alone. She also reminded everyone to vote at the end of the night and to ask questions to candidates that did not participate. “Firing someone just for being LGBTQ is wrong and not up for debate,” emphasized GLADD’s President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.
The forum was sponsored by One Iowa, The Gazette, and the Advocate.