Highlights from CNN’s LGBTQ Town Hall – Part 1

Last night, CNN hosted an LGBTQ town hall event in Los Angeles. It was held in conjunction with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and featured nine candidates for the Democratic nomination. In today’s show we’re going to listen to almost of all of those candidates, and get at some of the issues raised in the multi-hour event. Today’s show is almost entirely highlights from the event, so buckle up.

Overall, the event did not expose a ton of differences between the candidates in terms of their core beliefs. But it DID expose a real difference in how the candidates talked about issues, answered direct questions, and spoke to policy as it applied to the LGBTQ community. You saw some differences in how FAR candidates were willing to go on certain policies, and some differences in how familiar they seemed to be with this audience.

For instance, one issue that came up was PrEP. This is a drug combination of HIV-prevention medications that are about to go off-patent. When that happens, they can be manufactured as generic drugs for far less money. These drugs have a MAJOR effect in reducing or preventing HIV and AIDS transmission—both here and abroad.

Widespread availability of PrEP, especially if it’s super-cheap or free, could act similarly to a vaccine against HIV/AIDS. It’s not QUITE as effective as a true vaccine, but it’s PRETTY effective, and this is an international issue.

So for instance, when Senator Warren was asked about the drug, she said that she would make it available AT COST as a generic drug if elected. Now, that’s probably what MANY of these candidates would do, but she was familiar enough with that issue to volunteer that as a known part of her plan. She was not alone in having specific plans and familiarity with these kinds of issues.

Other candidates stood out for their familiarity with, for instance, asylum policy and how it affects LBGTQ immigrants—Julián Castro basically owns that issue.

And Senator Kamala Harris had a lot to say on homelessness and its disproportionate effects on this community. She also got at the PrEP stuff, and lots of other stuff. Point being, this was a long event, with a bunch of issues, and MOST of the candidates there were very engaged and knowledgeable.

One issue that permeated the evening was the ongoing murder of transgender people in the US, including many Black transgender women. There was a major protest, including banners and an organized group, right at the beginning of Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s first question, and protestors continued to speak up about this issue throughout the night. Reading from CNN’s coverage to put it in perspective:

“A member of the audience interrupted California Sen[ator] Kamala Harris Thursday night and pleaded for assistance in addressing the deaths of more than a dozen transgender people. The audience member shouted questions to Harris as she stood on stage at the town hall in Los Angeles:
"How do we get those men to stop killing us? How do we get those men to stop killing trans women of color? We are hunted. Systematically hunted. How can they do that?" the audience member shouted.
Last year, the Human Rights Campaign tracked the murders of at least 26 transgender people. This year, that tally is already at 18.”

Well, here is audio of that, and how Harris responded. Listen in:

[CLIP-HARRIS-PANIC-DEFENSE]

And next let’s listen to how Buttigieg responded, earlier in the evening, after a group of protestors raised the same issue during his very first question. That protest was so heated that moderator Anderson Cooper looked like he was trying to avert violence in the crowd, although the camera never cut to the crowd, so I don’t really know for sure. Anyway, after the protestors had been removed from the room, this is what Buttigieg said. Listen in:

[CLIP-BUTTIGIEG-INCLUSION]

There was one more super-notable moment from Buttigieg. He was asked a question by a 911 dispatcher, on the issue of blood donation. Listen in:

[CLIP-BUTTIGIEG-BLOOD]

And in what was clearly the zinger of the night, Warren handled a question in a way that basically blew up the room, and also spread instantly across Twitter. Listen in:

[CLIP-WARREN-JUST-MARRY-ONE-WOMAN]

With that, let’s take a quick break, and we’ll be right back.

Highlights from CNN’s LGBTQ Town Hall – Part 2

All right, we are back. Warren also had a series of more substantive answers, in which she suggested, among other things, using the power of US trade agreements to enforce LGBTQ protections around the world. Biden suggested a similar policy. And so did Julián Castro. Let’s listen to Castro’s response here:

[CLIP-CASTRO-FOREIGN-AID]

Senator Amy Klobuchar addressed the ONLY question of the evening about nonbinary people. It’s a short answer, and an admirably direct one, so let’s listen in:

[CLIP-KLOBUCHAR-NB]

And by the way, the answer Klobuchar gives there is actually pretty typical of other answers during the night. There were MANY cases where a simple yes-or-no question was asked, and the answer was, just YES. That’s really refreshing in a political event—I’ve seen so many yes-or-not questions in this cycle answered with, you know, “We should have a discussion about that,” or whatever. In this case, almost every candidate just said, yeah, they had a clear position on whatever issue was brought. There were a few exceptions, though.

The notable example was when Senator Cory Booker refused to answer a yes-or-no question about whether religious institutions should be allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ people and retain their tax-exempt status. Booker was asked repeatedly to give a yes-or-no answer on that, and he refused to do so. Beto O’Rourke got a similar question, and said yes, and then gave a full answer. So, there were SOME differences on display.

O’Rourke handled a question on conversion therapy from moderator Don Lemon. Klobuchar had a similar question and answer, but the one from O’Rourke is a little more thorough. Listen in:

[CLIP-OROURKE-CONVERSION-THERAPY]

And finally, Senator Bernie Sanders couldn’t attend the event—his next public appearance is at the debate on Tuesday. But Dr. Sanjay Gupta asked him a few questions about LGBTQ issues during a sit-down interview earlier in the day. Here’s a clip from that, and there’s a link to the full interview in the show notes. Listen in:

[CLIP-SANDERS-CIVIL-RIGHTS]

Debate Bingo is here

All right, a quick reminder that Debate Bingo is ready for y’all. It’s the top link in the show notes, or if you’re not a show notes person, here is the place to go: ridehome dot info slash bingo. Again that is ridehome dot info slash bingo. From there, you can grab the cards and check out those printing instructions—the key thing is, print SINGLE SIDED. My printer defaults to double-sided, which is almost always great because it saves paper, but in the case of bingo, it is no help because you end up with an unusable bingo card on the back of the bingo card you are playing.

So, make sure you get those cards printed, or saved to your tablet, or whatever, before the debate on Tuesday night. You do have a few more days to do it, but, you know, better safe than sorry.

Also, be aware the PDF is THIRTY PAGES LONG so just print as many pages as you need. Each card is different, so feel free to pick out cards in the middle or at the end, and you’ll have your own bingo experience. Each card is identified with a letter in the top right, so you know if you’re playing Card A, or B, and whatever. That helps when you’re on Twitter and asking around whether anybody else has a Bingo on Card J.

All right, more on Debate Bingo right before the event. Let’s move on.

A candidate anecdote from Warren

Last up today, let’s listen to a candidate anecdote from Senator Elizabeth Warren, along with her husband Bruce Mann.

In an interview with CNN’s MJ Lee, the couple sat on their sun porch and told the story of how they met. This story happens in 1979 in Key Biscayne, Florida—which, hey, shout out to my Miami friends—and they met at a law conference. Okay, Bruce Mann speaks first, then you’ll hear Lee, and then Warren. Listen in:

[CLIP-CANDIDATE-ANECDOTE-WARREN-MANN]

Now there is more to that story, it’s a total of about EIGHT minutes—if you’re curious, check out the last link in the show notes.