Biden’s LGBTQ Record Draws Scrutiny at Iowa Presidential Forum

Scott Morgan/Reuters

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s decades-long record on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues was scrutinized on Friday in Iowa at the first major forum focused on the topic during the 2020 Democratic presidential nominating contest.

Biden was questioned at the multi-candidate event on Friday night about his votes as a U.S. senator from Delaware on legislation that included the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibited openly gay individuals from serving in the U.S. military and a law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

When moderator Lyz Lenz, a columnist with the Cedar Rapids Gazette, one of the event’s sponsors, mentioned that Biden had called Republican Vice President Mike Pence – a religious conservative who as Indiana governor in 2014 signed a state law banning same-sex marriage – a “decent guy”, the audience booed.

“It’s just a matter of a way in which you usually speak – when we try to get things done – to talk about people,” Biden told Lenz.

The exchange between Lenz and Biden, the current front-runner to be the Democratic nominee to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November 2020, was the tensest of the night, when 10 of the 19 candidates vying for the nomination discussed LGBTQ issues, including Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who would be the first openly gay U.S. president.

Biden’s campaign declined to comment on the forum.

The former vice president backed “don’t ask, don’t tell” as part of a larger defense bill and later voted to remove it. Though Biden also voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, he had previously opposed denying same-sex couples benefits.

He backed same-sex marriage before former President Barack Obama, for whom he served. And shortly after his statement about Pence, Biden wrote on Twitter that there is “nothing decent about being anti-LGBTQ rights.”

Forum attendees Elle Boeding, Micah McCutchen and Emmett Cory, all 20-something students at the University of Northern Iowa who are involved with the LGBTQ-group UNI Proud, said, though, that the event made them further doubt whether Biden was the best representative for a party that has rapidly evolved on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning/queer issues.

Cory questioned Biden’s response that he “didn’t have to evolve” because he was an early supporter of gay rights.

“I think that he thinks he doesn’t need to, but he does, he can’t just ride (his political history) without having to get with the times,” Cory said.

Boeding was turned off by Biden at times interrupting Lenz, who tweeted that Biden “said to me dryly, ‘You’re a real sweetheart,'” as the two walked off stage.

“In this specific setting, interrupting a woman is a no go … I don’t know what it will take for him to connect the dots,” Boeding said.

McCutchen said: “Joe Biden had a bad night.”

Biden is set to attend additional campaign events in Iowa on Saturday, including a multi-candidate steak fry hosted by a county Democratic Party. His appearance at the LGBTQ forum came amid news reports that Trump repeatedly pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden and Biden’s son.

(Reporting By Amanda Becker in Iowa and Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Tom Hogue)

What do you think?

11 pledges
Upvote Downvote
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Brad
Member

” including a multi-candidate steak fry hosted by a county Democratic Party.”
So they can eat STEAK but we had better not eat “HAMBURGERS”……..does steak come from a more GREEN source than HAMBURGERS……..asking for a friend!

Qaz Wiz
Member

sounds to me that that wasn’t a “Presidential Debate” as much as an “Anti-Biden” debate
seem like the Dems have figured out that Biden, despite his inane front, is most likely to win Dems nomination AND is too much like Trump to win.

-What they fail to recognize is that anyone pulling away from Biden is going into the “Conservatives MUST vote” camp so we don’t go down the flushed toilet known as woke

Phyllis Softa
Member

Perhaps James and Screw can enlighten us on the Republican sponsored laws that promoted equal protection of gays and lesbians. They might want to include an explanation of the audience booing of the gay American soldier serving in Iraq and Santorum’s response to the soldier. I am referring to the September, 2011 FOX airing of the Republican presidential primary debate.

James
Member

>Screwtape<

Barry's hanging with "G-D America Wright" was only for show – just like he chose to be Black for the sympathy vote. As a Muslim, he had no other business than to be seen, pander for votes for his future, abysmal political career and act like he knew what was happening. Probably made a few more points with Allah in those 20+ years.

General Confusion
Member

“I caucus Republican as they are least offensive or oppressive for me.” I Ching

Wow, if what is left of the oppressive “Republican” party today doesn’t offend you, you are really confused.

Phoenix
Member

I’m saying a lot of people around that time made the exact decision to stay with churches that have said things that would be insanely controversial today. People still make that decision today. Church was a lot more integrated in the culture in the past. Even i needed to wait until i left for college. I still had (my mother insisted) to go to church during Christmas and other holidays when home but i was thankfully able to refuse communion on the excuse that i hadn’t had confession for sometime. Obama had denounced Rev Wright and his political record can… Read more »

Screwtape
Member

Phoenix,

Again you’re arguing that Obozo, as a “full-grown man”, made his choice to stick with a Wright.

20+ years is more than enough time for any rational adult to make a choice. Would it be wrong to say that such decisions would be more about personal ethics than cultural change?

Screwtape
Member

Were Joe NOT pandering for votes, he’d say he voted with the culture and standards of the time. No one can or should apologize for history, but only be aware of it.

U.S. Says It Will Help El Salvador Handle More Asylum Seekers

Inspired by Greta Thunberg, Worldwide Protest Demands Climate Action