It wouldn't be an LGBTQ town hall without a protest and a handful of cringe-inducing moments.
The top Democratic candidates spoke in 25-minute segments to LGBTQ people and their allies Thursday night, giving a rundown of LGBTQ policies and legal challenges facing queer communities from coast to coast and around the world. Senator Cory Booker kicked off the evening, and was followed by former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Secretary Julian Castro, and businessman Tom Steyer.
Here are a few highlights from the four-hour series of interviews.
Biden raised eyebrows
The moment that had audience members squinting was former Vice President Joe Biden's…entire 25 minutes on stage with Anderson Cooper.
Questions for Biden ran the typical gamut: How to reduce anti-LGBTQ violence, explaining his longtime support for same-sex marriage, repealing the reinstated ban on transgender people serving in the military, for starters. Though it was clear he understood the issues he was being asked about, he still offered long, rambling answers that seemed to wind off course. He showed his comfort on the stage, living up to his reputation as an everyday type of guy who happens to support LGBTQ folks. But then he got a little too comfortable.
As Biden approached the end of his time on stage, he was asked by Christopher Hucks-Ortiz, who works in health services, what he would do to address the higher rates of HIV among young gay men of color, especially in the South.
He began by proposing that his health care plan would ensure thorough, affordable treatment for people with HIV, and continue educating the public about HIV and LGBTQ issues at large. He went on to explain that LGBTQ acceptance and understanding is much higher than it had been even just a few years ago.
And then, he said, "remember, Anderson, back 15, 20 years ago, we talked about this—in San Francisco was all about, well, you know, gay—gay bathhouses. And everybody—'it's all about around-the-clock sex.' It's all—come on, man. Gay couples are more likely to say together longer than heterosexual couples."
Anderson Cooper interjected that they'd leave it at that. What a way to end things.
Protests broke out
There's a long history in the LGBTQ movement: If transgender women of color are not going to be given the floor, they will take the floor. This isn't news to South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The openly gay candidate has brushed up against plenty of LGBTQ protesters during his campaign (including during Pride month in New York) and this instance, on stage with Anderson Cooper, made a clear display of how to handle it. As Ph.D. student Robby Goldman began to ask a question, a group of transgender women, led by activist Bamby Salcedo of the TransLatin@ Coalition, unfurled a transgender pride flag, and began chants of "Trans Lives Matter!" Some audience members also stood and joined the chant as the group was escorted away, and Cooper interjected, "Let me just point out, there is a long and proud tradition and history in the gay, lesbian, and transgender community of protest, and we applaud them for their protest."
Buttigieg and Cooper seemed to watch over the protesters as they were removed from the hall, urging security to "relax."
Later in the evening, as the mother of a transgender child prepared to ask former Congressman Beto O'Rourke a question, Blossom C. Brown interrupted to point out that "not one black trans woman has taken the mic tonight, no black trans man has taken the mic…that's how anti-blackness works. That's how erasure works."
Jacob made everyone want to have a child
There wasn't a dry ovary in the house after 9-year-old Jacob Lemay approached the microphone with his mother to ask Elizabeth Warren what she would do as president to protect LGBTQ youth in schools.
"My name's Jacob, and I'm a 9-year-old transgender American," Jacob said.
Warren went right for current Education Secretary Bets DeVos, saying she'd appoint a secretary who "believes in public education and believes in the value of every one of our kids and is willing to enforce our civil rights laws." Most importantly she told Lemay she'd want him to meet her appointee and make sure they hear his story, "and then I want you to tell me if you think that's the right person and then we'll make the deal," Warren said.
There was a pronoun gaffe
Sen. Kamala Harris has been making it a habit to say her pronouns when she addresses a crowd. As BuzzFeed reported earlier this year, Harris has been playing with pronouns a little bit on the campaign trail, using "she" and "her" to refer to a hypothetical president.
So when Harris began her round by saying "my pronouns are she/her/hers," moderator Chris Cuomo quickly quipped, "yeah so are mine," a "joke" that just did not go over well with this crowd.
Later in the evening, Cuomo issued an apology: "When Sen. Harris said her pronouns were she her and her's, I said mine too. I should not have. I apologize. I am an ally of the LGBTQ community, and I am sorry because I am committed to helping us achieve equality."
Warren had jokes
Morgan Cox, a real estate investor, asked Warren about how to talk to people about supporting marriage equality when they just aren't there yet.
What would you do, he asks, if "a supporter approaches you and says, Senator, I'm old-fashioned and my faith teaches me that marriage is between one man and one woman. What is your response?"
Warren quickly responds, "Well, I'm going to assume it's a guy who said that and I'm going to say, 'Then just marry one woman. I'm cool with that. … assuming you can find one.'"
The hall burst into laughter and applause.
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