Metro Weekly

HRC partnering with CNN to host LGBTQ town hall for 2020 Democratic presidential candidates

Town hall on LGBTQ issues will be the first of its kind broadcast on a major national cable news network

Democratic candidates on the first of two debates featuring 2020 presidential contenders in Miami – Photo: MSNBC.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has announced it is partnering with CNN to hold a town hall for 2020 Democratic presidential candidates specifically focusing on LGBTQ issues.

The town hall, entitled “Power of Our Pride,” will take place on Thursday, Oct. 10 at The Novo in Los Angeles, Calif., and will be the first LGBTQ-focused town hall to be broadcast on a major national cable news network.

HRC previously hosted similar town halls with Democratic presidential candidates in 2004 and 2008.

CNN will air the event live during prime time on CNN and CNN en Español, as well as on mobile devices via CNN’s apps for iOs and Android and via CNNgoapps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and Android TV.

The live audience will consist of HRC members, supporters, and community leaders, with tickets offered on an invitation-only basis.

Six candidates have confirmed they will participate in the town hall: former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend (Ind.) Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.).

To participate, candidates must earn 2% of more in four separate national or state polls by Sept. 25, and obtain 130,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 400 individual donors across 20 states. 

“For nearly 40 years, the Human Rights Campaign has fought to realize a world in which LGBTQ people are safe, equal and free in every aspect of our lives,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. “Today, at a time when our most basic civil rights and democratic values are under attack, our work has never been more urgent. We are eager to hear from this field of Democratic presidential candidates about how they plan to win full federal equality, defend the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people, and protect the most vulnerable among us — both here in the United States and around the globe — from stigma, institutional inequality, discrimination, and violence.”

The event will coincide with the 31st annual National Coming Out Day, which was launched on the first anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in order to promote visibility and celebrate the power of coming out as LGBTQ.

“This town hall comes at a critical time in our fight to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in this nation. Today, in 30 states, LGBTQ people remain at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services because of who we are. Thirty-five states have yet to ban  the dangerous and debunked practice of ‘conversion therapy,’ which is harming our young people. Hate crimes are rising, and more than 100 transgender people — most of whom are transgender women of color — have been killed in the United States in the last five years,” David continued.

He also pointed to actions taken by President Trump while in office that have been perceived by many as hostile towards the LGBTQ community, including rescinding guidance on treating transgender students according to their gender identity in school environments, appointing two conservative Supreme Court justices, as well as a litany of lower-court judges with anti-LGBTQ records, and the Trump administration’s push for religious exemptions in health care, housing, and public accommodations. 

“Although the federal government should be protecting all residents, the Trump-Pence Administration is directly attacking our community by banning transgender troops from serving our country openly, undermining health care services for people living with HIV, and seeking to erase LGBTQ people from protections under law,” David said.

HRC’s town hall will take place less than a month after a separate LGBTQ-focused presidential forum, co-hosted by the media advocacy organization GLAAD, the LGBTQ rights organization One Iowa, Iowa newspaper The Gazette, and national LGBTQ publication The Advocate, on Sept. 20 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Thus far, six candidates have said they will participate in that event. The only three doing both LGBTQ events at this time are Biden, Klobuchar, and Castro.

There are an estimated 10 million LGBTQ voters nationwide, as well as millions of heterosexual “Equality Voters” who say that a candidate’s position on LGBTQ issues influences whether they will support that candidate.

In the 2018 midterm elections, LGBTQ voters cast ballots in higher numbers than the general population, comprising 6% of the electorate, and could be poised to play a significant role in the Democratic primary, where their numbers and influence could be crucial in determining the party’s nominee.

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