Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s record on LGBTQ rights came under scrutiny during his appearance at the Iowa presidential forum on Friday, Reuters news agency reports.
Biden faced questions pertaining to his past opposition to same-sex marriage, his support for the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and a number of similar conservative positions related to LGBTQ rights.
Biden was also reminded that he had recently praised Vice President Mike Pence, a social conservative who signed a state law banning same-sex marriage. Biden described Pence as a “decent guy.”
The audience booed Biden after moderator Lyz Lenz reminded them of his description of Pence, but the Democrat defended his past remarks, arguing that the only way to “get things done” in Washington is to engage with people you disagree with.
“It’s just a matter of a way in which you usually speak — when we try to get things done — to talk about people,” he said.
Activists involved with the LGBTQ group UNI Proud told Reuters that Biden’s performance only made them further doubt his devotion to LGBTQ rights. The former vice president, activists claim, would not be the best representative for a political party which has embraced LGBTQ people, and moved left on a number of issues.
Biden also told the crowd that he “didn’t have to evolve” when it came to same-sex marriage and related matters, arguing that he has long supported gay rights.
“I think that he thinks he doesn’t need to, but he does, he can’t just ride (his political history) without having to get with the times,” UNI Proud activist Emmett Cory said.
Cory’s colleague, Elle Boeding, said that she did not like when Biden interrupted her and called her “sweetheart.”
“I don’t know what it will take for him to connect the dots,” she said.
According to The New York Times, one of the moderators at the event was unimpressed by Biden, describing his behavior as “condescending.”
As the publication notes, other candidates in the race have adopted more progressive positions than the former vice president on a wide range of issues.
Before tonight's #LGBTQforum in Iowa, I shared why I believe everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect under the law — regardless of who they are or whom they love. pic.twitter.com/h53usuqLA9
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 21, 2019
Nevertheless, despite setbacks and criticism from the progressive flank of the party, Biden remains the clear front-runner, having maintained a comfortable lead over the rest of his competitors in the primary race.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Biden’s closest competitors appear to be Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom have recently experienced a surge in the polls.
Both Sanders and Warren are promising sweeping and systematic changes, while Biden has opted for a more moderate path, embracing the Obama legacy.