Democrats clash over LGBT issues in first Presidential TV debate

Democratic presidential candidates New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, Rep. Tim Ryan, former housing secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard face off in the first Democrats presidential debate on June 26, 2019 in Miami, Florida.

Democrats were challenged on LGBT+ issues in the first Presidential debate.

Ten of the 20 eligible Democrats running for the party’s 2020 Presidential nomination faced off in an NBC TV debate on Wednesday (June 26).

Senators Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Tim Ryan, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, former housing secretary Julian Castro and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke faced off in the first debate.

Tulsi Gabbard challenged over anti-LGBT past in Democrats debate

The debate saw moderator Lester Holt challenge Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard over her past, working for her father‘s Christian anti-LGBT+ lobbying group in Hawaii.

Gabbard sought to distance herself from her past, adding: “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.

“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.”

Cory Booker: We need a President who will protect LGBT kids from violence

However, after Gabbard cited her voting record, Senator Cory Booker said that simply voting to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is “not enough” to deliver for LGBT+ Americans.

“It’s not enough. Look, civil rights is someplace to begin, but in the African American civil rights community, another place to focus on was to stop the lynching of African-Americans.

“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 percent 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.”

Senator Cory Booker speaks during the first night of the Democrats presidential debate on June 26, 2019 in Miami, Florida.

Senator Cory Booker speaks during the first night of the Democrats presidential debate on June 26, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty)

Elsewhere in the debate, Julián Castro said that discussions about reproductive healthcare should include trans men, who he appeared to refer to as “trans females.”

He said: “I don’t believe only in reproductive freedom, I believe in reproductive justice.

“What that means is that just because a woman, or let’s also not forget someone in the trans community, a trans female, is poor, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to exercise that right to choose. And so I absolutely would cover the right to have an abortion.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD said: “GLAAD commends tonight’s inclusion of LGBTQ issues by debate moderators in this first debate of the 2020 presidential cycle.

“Putting LGBTQ-specific issues front and center stands in stark contrast to the rhetoric and record of the Trump administration, which has put a target on the backs of LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities since the day he took office.”

The second half of the Democratic field, including big hitters Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris, will take place on Thursday.

HRC National Press Secretary for Campaigns Lucas Acosta said: “Last night, Democratic presidential candidates highlighted the transgender community and spoke to the intersectional issues they face each and every day.

“From touting the Equality Act to highlighting the epidemic of violence facing the black trans women, candidates made it clear that LGBTQ voters are crucial in the path to the Democratic nomination.

“We look forward to continuing to discuss the issues affecting LGBTQ people and how we can make our country more fair and more equal for everyone, regardless of who they are or who they love.”