Democratic candidates for president will participate in a forum focused specifically on the lives and rights of LGBTQ people this fall.
Showing the growing political influence of LGBTQ advocates and voters, the event provides a chance to educate the potential next president of the United States on the issues and challenges still facing queer Americans.
It will be hosted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
“Millions of LGBTQ people will have their rights on the ballot in 2020 -- but today we are also a powerful voting bloc that will help determine the outcome,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
The forum is scheduled on October 10th, which is the evening of National Coming Out Day. Organizers plan to discuss “conversion therapy” restrictions, hate crime threats and transgender rights.
HRC leaders note conversion therapy remains legal to perform on minors in 35 states and LGBTQ people can still be fired, evicted or denied service in 30 states. At least 100 transgender people have been murdered in the U.S. since the start of 2015, and hate crimes against marginalized minority groups remain on the rise.
“If any LGBTQ person were to take a cross-country drive from HRC headquarters in Washington, D.C., to UCLA’s campus, their rights and protections under the law would change dozens of times at every city line and state border,” Griffin notes.
Organizers will invite candidates using the same parameters as Democratic National Committee sanctioned debates. That means participants need to poll at 1 percent or greater in at least three national polls, or they need to receive 65,000 donations from different people in 20 sates.
Notably, that means Pete Buttigieg, an out Democrat seeking the presidential nomination, has already qualified to participate in the forum.
UCLA leaders say they relish the chance to host a major forum in cooperation with HRC and to elevate this set of topics.
“The Luskin School of Public Affairs is dedicated to enhancing the well-being of all Americans through an informed electorate and educated social leaders,” said Gary Segura, dean of UCLA Luskin.
“We are beyond excited to partner with the Human Rights Campaign in raising LGBTQ issues and the policy stances of candidates to greater public attention in this cycle. UCLA is the perfect host for this conversation.”
The HRC Foundation last hosted a presidential forum in 2008, when then-candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinish and Bill Richardson participated. Before then, the foundation also hosted a candidate forum in 2004, when John Kerry, Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun, Howard Dean, Al Sharpton, Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt took part.
In both of those forums, the ultimate Democratic nominees, Obama and Kerry, participated in the events.