WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowans have never had a chance to question presidential candidates in one place on unresolved issues that impact the LGBTQ community like they will on Friday. The LGBTQ Presidential Forum takes place Friday night at 7 p.m. at Coe College in Cedar Rapids. Ten presidential candidates have committed to take part.
This year marked ten years since the historic Iowa Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage, making the state the first in the nation to recognize matrimonial equality. But members of the LGBTQ community say true equality still remains elusive when it comes to issues like health care, benefits and military service.
Ashley Foster lives in Des Moines but grew up in rural Iowa. Foster, who is transgender, appreciates that candidates will address LGBTQ issues but also wants to hear candidates show how they plan to unite all communities. "We have just become so polarized," Foster said, "I would want to know what you are going to do to stop that."
Bryce Smith lives in Adel with his husband and also wants to hear how candidates will bring unity. That includes when it comes to geography. "There are members of the LGBTQ community living in all corners of Iowa," Smith explained, "…in the most rural of communities to the most urban areas. This is a strong chance for these candidates to be asked questions regarding LGBTQ issues but rural issues, too."
Elizabeth Medina of Johnston said that she will watch Friday's conversation to see how candidates will address three communities to which she identifies: female, Latinx and lesbian. She wants specifics on what will make life better for all people. Medina said, "They (candidates) debate all the time and they tell us how our current administration is not doing so hot. But I’m tired of that."
The ten candidates will each be on stage for ten minutes at the forum. Here is the schedule, along with the moderator:
Marianne Williamson | Moderator: Zach Stafford - The Advocate
Joseph Sestak | Moderator: Keenan Crow - One Iowa
Joe Biden | Moderator: Lyz Lenz - The Gazette
Cory Booker | Moderator: Zach Stafford
Tulsi Gabbard | Moderator: Keenan Crow
Kamala Harris | Moderator: Lyz Lenz
Pete Buttigieg | Moderator: Zach Stafford
Amy Klobuchar | Moderator: Keenan Crow
Elizabeth Warren | Moderator: Lyz Lenz
Julian Castro | Moderator: Zach Stafford