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Democratic 2020 hopefuls tout their pride at Iowa LGBTQ forum

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Ten Democratic presidential candidates gathered at Coe College on Friday night to make their pitches to LGBTQ voters in the nation’s first caucus state. Candidates were largely united on passing the Equality Act, addressing violence against transgender women, and undoing president Trump’s ban on transgender military service.

The LGBTQ Presidential Forum was the first such forum since 2007. The candidates spoke in tight, ten minute segments. Here’s a rundown of what each had to say.

Marianne Williamson

First on stage was Marianne Williamson, a candidate who has struggled to register in opinion polls.

The Advocate’s editor-in-chief Zach Stafford quizzed Williamson about her writing that “love” can heal sickness, such as AIDS. “I believed that with love for each other, we could get through it,” Williamson said of her sister’s fight with cancer.

Williamson said as president she would “speak very loudly” about the Equality Act, a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act, banning conversion therapy, and would advocate for repealing the ban on transgender people serving in the military.

She said that while some believe diversity is like “an incredible garden,” a “panoply of diversity,” others disagree — sometimes violently. “Some people find that entire idea as psychically annihilating to their identity,” Williamson said, noting that LGBTQ opponents are politically active and do vote. “You make me president, I’ll have your back,” Williamson said.

Joe Sestak

Second up for the night was Joe Sestak, another long-shot candidate who has struggled to register in opinion polls. Sestak was quizzed by Keenan Crow, director of Iowa LGBTQ advocacy group One Iowa. Sestak touted his experience as a navy officer who was “deeply opposed to the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy from the time of its inception.”

Sestak spoke about how sailors on aircraft carriers “didn’t care” about the gay servicemembers, whose surreptitious service under “don’t ask, don’t tell” was widely known by their peers. He was quizzed in detail about how he would undo Trump’s transgender military ban. “What you need to do is have those types of mandated reports that they do have,” he said, “and then hold the admirals and generals to task.”

“You really must inspect, and when you have the result, go back and hold the military accountable” if there is still discrimination against transgender service members, Sestak said.



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Amid mounting pressure, Buttigieg calls on McKinsey consulting firm to release his past client list

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Pete Buttigieg on Friday called on McKinsey & Company, the international consulting firm where he worked for nearly three years, to release his list of clients at the company.

Buttigieg’s request for his former employer to release the list comes as pressure mounts on the 2020 Democratic candidate to be more transparent about his years at McKinsey, amid news stories about the consulting firm’s work with controversial clients like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — a federal agency that handles immigration enforcement and deportations.

In an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio on Friday, Buttigieg said he felt “that McKinsey should release the client list of the clients that I served.”

“It’s something they can do,” said the South Bend mayor, who worked at McKinsey from 2007-2010. Buttigeig explained that he’d signed a nondisclosure agreement at the firm under which “you promise to keep your client information confidential.”

“But right now I am calling on McKinsey to release that information. Maybe they’re not used to doing that, but they’re not used to having somebody who used to work there being seriously considered for the American presidency,” Buttigieg said. “This information should come up and I’m happy to speak to it when it does.”.

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Buttigieg’s latest comments came one day after The New York Times published an editorial calling on him to reveal more information about his time at McKinsey, including who his clients there were — either by way of having the company release him from his nondisclosure agreement, or by agreeing to a “more permissive” arrangement.

Earlier in the week, The Times reported on how McKinsey had advised the Trump administration on how to carry out its crackdown on immigrants, including providing guidance on “detention savings opportunities” that would help the agency save money by housing detainees in cheaper ways.

When asked by a reporter about Buttigieg’s work at McKinsey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., one of Buttigieg’s main challengers for the Democratic nomination, was asked about the mayor’s involvement with McKinsey at an event Thursday night, chose to call out her rival for his private fundraising events, not specifically his time at the consulting company.

“I think that voters want to know about possible conflicts of interests,” she said. “It is even more important that the candidates expose possible conflicts of interests right now.”

In addition, four immigration advocacy groups have called on Buttigieg to return campaign contributions made by McKinsey employees.

Buttigieg, for his part, told New Hampshire Public Radio Friday that the reports of McKinsey’s dealings with ICE were “disgusting” and evidence of the “amoral turn of mind that increasingly dominates corporate America.”

Later Friday, during a discussion with New Hampshire voters, Buttigieg responded to a question about his time with McKinsey by saying that, “What I did at McKinsey was consulted for clients and my specialties including grocery pricing, and part of it is publicly available because I worked on a project to fight climate change that involved energy efficiency.”

In an interview with NBC News a day earlier, Buttigieg said he had no regrets about his time at McKinsey.

He responded “no,” when asked if he had regrets about representing any of his clients, about whether he’d ever represented a foreign government, and about whether he’d ever represented a pharmaceutical company.

He said his job at the firm “mostly consisted of preparing spreadsheets and PowerPoints.”

NBC News has reached out to McKinsey directly about Buttigieg’s work there.

Amanda Golden contributed.



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Brexit Party: Election candidate run off the road after death threats from far-left

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A BREXIT Party candidate who was sent sick death threats from far left activists was run off the road while campaigning in Doncaster.

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Brexit latest: Brussels DISTANCES itself from Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal

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BRUSSELS has repeatedly distanced itself from Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade talks timetable in fresh signs Britain could opt for a no deal.

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