Democrats Answer Questions On LGBTQ Rights In First Primary Debates

Moderator Lester Holt questioned Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard over her past work as an anti-LGBTQ lobbyist in Hawaii. 

There are plenty of Democrats running for President, and the first chance we’ve had to see them spar against each other took place last night at the first of two debates designed to see where candidates stand on a variety of important issues.

In last night’s debate Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, Tim Ryan, Bill De Blasio, Julian Castro, and Beto O’Rourke sparred on stage regarding everything from war with Iran to the biggest threat to the United States currently.

LGBTQ rights came up in the middle of the debate, when moderator Lester Holt questioned Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard over her past work as an anti-LGBTQ lobbyist in Hawaii.  Gabbard seemed to expect the question and had an answer ready, saying that her record in Congress spoke for itself when it comes to her stance on LGBTQ issues. “Let me say that there is no one in our government at any level who has the right to tell any American who they should be allowed to love or who they should be allowed to marry. My record in Congress for over six years shows my commitment to fighting for LGBTQ equality. I serve on the Equality Caucus and recently voted for passage of the Equality Act.”

She also added that she thought that many voters may be able to relate to her experience, saying “Maybe many people in this country can relate to the fact that I grew up in a socially conservative home, held views when I was very young that I no longer hold today.”

After Gabbard’s answer, however, Senator Corey Booker took the mic to say that Gabbar’s voting record wasn’t enough when it comes to LGBTQ rights. “It’s not enough,” Booker said. “We do not talk enough about trans Americans, especially African-American trans Americans and the incredibly high rates of murder right now. We don’t talk enough about how many children, about 30% of LGBTQ kids, who do not go to school because of fear. It’s not enough just to be on the Equality Act. I’m an original co-sponsor. We need to have a president that will fight to protect LGBTQ Americans every single day from violence in America.”

Julián Castro also touched on LGBTQ issued when he brought up the importance of including trans people in debates about reproductive healthcare and abortion access, although he seemingly said “trans women” when he meant “trans men.”

The second debate will take place tonight on NBC featuring the remaining qualifying candidates.

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