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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former Vice President Joe Biden’s decades-long record on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues was scrutinized on Friday in Iowa at the first major forum focused on the topic during the 2020 Democratic presidential nominating contest.
Biden was questioned at the multi-candidate event on Friday night about his votes as a U.S. senator from Delaware on legislation that included the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibited openly gay individuals from serving in the U.S. military and a law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
When moderator Lyz Lenz, a columnist with the Cedar Rapids Gazette, one of the event’s sponsors, mentioned that Biden had called Republican Vice President Mike Pence - a religious conservative who as Indiana governor in 2014 signed a state law banning same-sex marriage - a “decent guy”, the audience booed.
“It’s just a matter of a way in which you usually speak - when we try to get things done - to talk about people,” Biden told Lenz.
The exchange between Lenz and Biden, the current front-runner to be the Democratic nominee to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November 2020, was the tensest of the night, when 10 of the 19 candidates vying for the nomination discussed LGBTQ issues, including Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who would be the first openly gay U.S. president.
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