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A recently announced presidential forum on LGBTQ issues and civil rights has more exciting updates.
GLAAD, the LGBTQ media advocacy group, will now serve as a national partner for the historic forum and will be working to ensure that the historic event can be acccessed by everyone through a new live stream of the night's events.
The event, hosted alongside One Iowa and The Gazette, will take place at Coe College's Sinclair Auditorium September 20 and will ensure LGBTQ issues earn due attention in the 2020 presidential primaries.
Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden, Julian Castro, Joe Sestak, and Marianne Williamson have already confirmed to attend. All Democratic candidates have been invited to participate. More candidates are expected to announce participation as early as Wednesday evening.
Zach Stafford, The Advocate's editor in chief, Gazette columnist Lyz Lenz, and One Iowa Policy Director Keenan Crow will moderate.
The need for the forum became apparent as early debates all but ignored LGBTQ issues. Meanwhile, GLAAD says LGBTQ Americans have withered more than 124 anti-LGBTQ attacks in policy and rhetoric from a hostile Trump administration. Those range from a trans military ban to voiced opposition to the Equality Act. Meanwhile, polling suggests support for LGBTQ causes is waning among younger voters.
"LGBTQ issues and the LGBTQ community have been largely left out of the 2020 presidential primary conversation so far, and this forum will bring these important topics to a national audience for the first time in this election cycle," said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. "We look forward to hearing how each 2020 candidate will fight for LGBTQ acceptance during this campaign and beyond and, as president, how each of them would repair the damage done to LGBTQ equality and acceptance by the Trump administration."
Exit polls suggest 6 percent of voters in the 2018 midterms identified at LGBTQ, as reported by the Washington Blade, and could prove a critical Democratic voting bloc.
Leaders for One Iowa, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, say it's important to remember LGBTQ issues impact voters in Midwestern states like Iowa, the state that also hosts the first Democratic caucuses in 2020.
"We're excited to have GLAAD on board as we shine a light on the lives and needs of LGBTQ people living in the heartland," said One Iowa Interim Executive Director Courtney Reyes. "The overarching narrative that LGBTQ people in the U.S live in urban coastal areas ignores the millions of LGBTQ individuals living and working in the middle of the country. We look forward to hearing what the presidential candidates have to say to this often overlooked, but politically powerful community."
More than 350 people have RSVP'd, and additional tickets are available here or by calling (319) 398-8345.
Honorary co-chairs for the event include U.S. Reps. Abby Finkenauer and Dave Loebsack, state Sens. Zach Wahls and Rob Hogg, state Rep. Liz Bennett, Iowa Democratic Party Stonewall Caucus chair Kyla Paterson, Linn County Democratic Party chair Bret Niles, and Hiawatha City Councilwoman Aime Wichtendahl.