Democratic Presidential Candidates Will Participate in an LGBTQ Forum in Iowa

Candidates will address LGBTQ and civil rights issues, especially affecting rural Americans.

Democratic candidates vying for their party's nomination to take on President Donald Trump in the 2020 election will take part in an LGBTQ forum in Iowa.

The event is set to take place on the evening of September 20, at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, and will be hosted by The Advocate, One Iowa, and The Gazette.

All of the Democratic candidates have been invited, and more are expected to confirm their attendance soon, but currently those committing to attend include Joe Biden, Julian Castro, Joe Sestak, and Marianne Williamson.

The candidates will be asked how they plan to "deal with LGBTQ and other civil rights issues, specifically in the heartland and rural America," according to The Advocate.

"This event will focus on LGBTQ people living in the heartland and their needs. The overarching narrative that LGBTQ people in the U.S live in urban coastal areas ignores the millions of LGBTQ individuals living and working in the middle of the country," said One Iowa Interim Executive Director Courtney Reyes.

"We look forward to hearing what the presidential candidates have to say to this often overlooked but politically powerful community."

"Creating a forum where our issues are front and center will allow the LGBTQ community to make clear and informed decisions about the candidates seeking our valuable votes," The Advocate editor-in-chief Zach Stafford said.

Stafford told NewNowNext he has been "really focused on ensuring the the country’s longest running LGBTQ politics magazine was helping ensure queer issues are front and center in 2020 since I joined in January."

"And so far this year, we’ve been able to do that through working with Speaker Pelosi on announcing the Equality Act in an op-ed with us and Sen. Corey Booker on a piece about why he spoke out for black trans lives in the first debate—to name a few. So, working with One Iowa and [The Gazette] to create this forum was a no-brainer. LGBTQ folks have been largely absent on the debate stage—even with Mayor Pete running—and we are so excited that this event will help fix that."

The event will consist of each candidate having individual stage time to make an address to the audience, followed by a one-on-one Q&A session moderated by Gazette political reporter James Q. Lynch, Stafford, and One Iowa Director of Policy and Advocacy Keenan Crow.

The LGBTQ voting bloc is of great importance to the Democratic Party, with the community voting overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidate in presidential elections. Only 14% of LGBTQ voters cast their ballot for Trump in 2016. The 2018 midterm elections also showed LGBTQ voters siding heavily with Democratic candidates over Republicans.

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