The panel was the first to discuss LGBTQ issues among the 2020 candidates, who focused elsewhere during their prior debates.
Former VP Joe Biden had the night’s most contentious exchange. Biden’s replies to moderator Lyz Lenz were later described by her as “condescending.”
Biden pointed out that he supported same-sex marriage before President Barack Obama. “I didn’t have to evolve,” he said. But the gaffe-prone senior then called Lenz “a lovely person,” to which she replied, “just asking the questions people want to know.” The exchange caused a kerfuffle on social media from prominent feminists.
“I interpreted it as a little condescending,” Lenz said in a backstage interview, echoing the immediate criticism of some prominent feminists on social media.
Biden was particularly under fire for his praise of VP Mike Pence, who he termed “a decent guy” in earlier remarks. He later walked that back on Twitter with a post that said, “There is nothing decent about being anti-L.G.B.T.Q. rights, and that includes the vice president.”
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay man to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, answered critics who complained that he hasn’t put LGBTQ issues at the heart of his campaign, despite strong support financially from the gay community. (Fred Karger ran for the Republican nomination in 2012).
Buttigieg said the country is “still living with the long tail of prejudices,” citing his own inability to donate blood during a local drive.
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