September 20, 2019

Mathew Lasky
Director of Communications, GLAAD

2020 candidates Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Gabbard, Harris, Klobuchar, Sestak, Warren, and Williamson answered questions about LGBTQ-specific issues and addressed how they will reverse the 125 attacks by the Trump Administration on the LGBTQ community

The LGBTQ Forum - hosted by Pose & American Horror Story star Angelica Ross and featuring GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis - was live-streamed worldwide by GLAAD on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,, and NBC News Now

LGBTQ Notables Raymond Braun, Billy Gilman, Isis King, Brandon Wolf, and hundreds of local LGBTQ people to attend

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, September 20, 2019 – GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, co-hosted the first Presidental Candidate Forum on LGBTQ issues to take place during the 2020 election cycle. Co-sponsored by GLAAD, One Iowa, The Gazette, and The Advocate, the LGBTQ Forum was livestreamed on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,, and NBC News Now from Coe College’s Sinclair Auditorium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The event was hosted by transgender actor and activist Angelica Ross and GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. The events moderators were Lyz Lenz, The Gazette columnist; Zach Stafford, The Advocate editor-in-chief; and Keenan Crow, One Iowa director of policy and advocacy. A full auditorium  of local LGBTQ community members and notables attended.

Photos of the candidates available here: LINK

Please embed content from @GLAAD on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and use #LGBTQForum

During the Forum, ten Democratic Presidential candidates - Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Joe Sestak, Elizabeth Warren, and Marianne Williamson - each laid out their vision for improving LGBTQ acceptance. Each candidate also answered specific questions on how they would address some of the largest issues affecting the LGBTQ community today.

Some of the highlights from the LGBTQ Forum included:

Mayor Pete Buttigieg opened up on LGBTQ issues and spoke about the policy banning gay and bi men from giving blood:

Sen. Cory Booker speaks about ending the epidemic of violence facing LGBTQ people:

Vice President Joe Biden stated: “I would like to thank all of you and all the LGBTQ community for having the courage to come out.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar answers a question from Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf about violence against LGBTQ people and the need for gun reform:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren recites the names of 18 transgender women of color who lost their lives to hate violence:

Sen. Kamala Harris talks about her refusal to defend Proposition 8 as Attorney General of California: “I took that position because I am committed to fighting always for equality and fairness.”

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro lays out his plan for what he will do for LGBTQ asylum seekers:

Author Marianne Williamson responds to criticism she’s faced over past comments about HIV and AIDS:

Former Pennsylvania representative Joe Sestak on how he would pass the Equality Act with a Republican controlled Senate:

Downloadable links to a clip of each of the candidates speeches & responses available below (in speaking order) - please credit GLAAD and tag @GLAAD, #LGBTQForum in coverage:

Marianne Williamson: LINK

Joseph Sestak: LINK

Joe Biden: LINK

Cory Booker: LINK

Tulsi Gabbard: LINK

Kamala Harris: LINK

Pete Buttigieg: LINK

Amy Klobuchar: LINK

Elizabeth Warren: LINK

Julián Castro: LINK

“The last time we witnessed a Presidential candidate forum dedicated to LGBTQ issues was 2007 and none of the major Democratic candidates supported marriage equality at the time,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Tonight’s forum demonstrates how far LGBTQ acceptance has progressed, while educating Americans about how far we have yet to go to reach full equality and reverse the anti-LGBTQ actions of the Trump Administration. It was the beginning of a conversation that we will keep going until we have a pro-equality President in the White House.”

Actress and advocate Angelica Ross opened the night reviewing some of the harms that the Trump Administration has fostered against the transgender community and called out Secretary Betsy DeVos for targeting transgender students. She also sent a message to the trans community: “To all the trans and gender-diverse people here or watching at home who have been hurt by hate: you are beautiful. You are worthy. And we will not stop until you too have access to the American dream.”

During the Forum, Queer Eye star Karamo Brown also surprised the crowd and called out the Trump Adminstration for its continued attacks on the LGBTQ community. In his remarks, Brown stated: “The rhetoric coming from the White House that is meant to divide our nation and target marginalized communities has to stop. And it is time for all marginalized communities to stand united. The 2020 Presidential election is too important for the LGBTQ community, for the Black community, and for those Americans like me who live at the intersection to be silent. We need to be loud and proud.”

At the beginning of the LGBTQ Forum, out country music star Billy Gilman performed the National Anthem. Other LGBTQ notables in attendance included actress Isis King (Netflix’s ‘When They See Us’), producer and TV host Raymond Braun and Equality Florida’s Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the Pulse Nightclub shooting and leading gun reform advocate.

Official media partners The Advocate, Autostraddle, Betches, Billboard, Logo, NBC Out, Newsweek, Out, PLUS,, them., and The Washington Blade will help to share the Presidential Forum livestream across their social channels to help spread the word about LGBTQ acceptance.

The LGBTQ Forum came as the 2020 presidential election conversation has so far failed to address LGBTQ-specific issues during nationally televised events. GLAAD’s Trump Accountability Project has counted 125 anti-LGBTQ attacks in policy and rhetoric from the Trump Administration, including the President’s ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military and the Administration’s opposition to the Equality Act.

The LGBTQ Forum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa was the first public event specifically focused on LGBTQ issues in the 2020 presidential election cycle. Exit polls from the 2018 midterm elections revealed LGBTQ voters represented about six percent of the electorate.