Kamala Harris is the latest presidential candidate to confirm attendance at an upcoming forum hosted by GLAAD on issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community.
To date, 2020 hopefuls Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Joe Sestak, Elizabeth Warren, and Marianne Williamson have all RSVPed to the first-of-its-kind event, which will be held at Coe College in Iowa on September 20. The forum will be presented in cooperation with The Advocate and the statewide LGBTQ+ advocacy group One Iowa.
As Buttigieg and Warren added their names to the growing list, Harris also confirmed her attendance to Out in an email.
“I'm proud to have fought alongside the LGBTQ community my whole career, from marrying couples at San Francisco City Hall in 2004 to fighting against Trump's discriminatory transgender military ban in the Senate,” she said in an email. “I'm thrilled to have the chance to speak directly to the pressing issues facing the LGBTQ community and I'm looking forward to being back in Cedar Rapids.”
As Harris discusses in her statement, the candidate has a long history of supporting the LGBTQ+ community. In addition to personally marrying same-sex couples in 2004 and 2008, Harris was also among the first candidates to publicly support marriage equality. As the Attorney General for California, she petitioned to overturn Proposition 8.
During her time as the District Attorney for San Francisco, she pushed to ban the use of the “panic defense” to justify killing an LGBTQ+ person because the assailant perceived their sexual orientation or gender identity as a threat. Eventually the practice was outlawed via statewide law, making California the first state to ban the panic defense and one of just eight overall.
As a U.S. Senator, Harris has introduced similar legislation at the federal level. She has claimed the panic defense “allows people to carry out hate crimes and denies justice to the victims of those crimes.”
The candidate is also one of just a handful of 2020 hopefuls with a page dedicated to outlining her LGBTQ+ agenda on their website.
Although Harris has been criticized for her past support of the anti-sex work bill FOSTA/SESTA in the Senate and opposition to gender-affirming care for transgender inmates as Attorney General of California, she has addressed those missteps during the campaign. Harris has called for sex work to be decriminalized and said she takes “full responsibility” for her office’s denial of gender reassignment surgery to trans people behind bars.
But as Harris continues to speak out and be held accountable on LGBTQ+ issues, it’s notable how many candidates have been unwilling to do so during the primaries. Of the 2020 candidates, 19 have yet to confirm attendance at the GLAAD forum: 15 Democrats and all four Republican candidates.
Of Democrats who have yet to RSVP, no-shows include Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Steve Bullock, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Bernie Sanders, and Andrew Yang. While CNN’s town hall on LGBTQ+ issues, which will be held on October 10, is limited solely to candidates who have polled at or above two percent in at least four prominent national surveys, the GLAAD forum is open to all candidates, meaning there’s nothing stopping anyone seeking the Oval Office from participating.
O’Rourke, Sanders, and Yang have yet to confirm attendance at the CNN town hall either, despite being eligible to join.