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Biden pressed about LGBT record during Iowa forum

The Hill logo The Hill 9/21/2019 John Bowden
a man wearing sunglasses and smoking a cigarette: Biden pressed about LGBT record during Iowa forum © Getty Images Biden pressed about LGBT record during Iowa forum

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden faced questions over his record on LGBT rights during a forum in Iowa on Friday, with the former vice president having a tense exchange with a questioner.

Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist Lyz Lenz tweeted Friday night that Biden dryly called her a "real sweetheart" in private after the two shared an onstage exchange over Biden's support for the Defense of Marriage Act and the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

"In 1994, you did vote for 'don't ask, don't tell,' and in 1996, you voted for the Defense of Marriage Act," Lenz said. "You did vote to repeal both of those, but you have also praised Vice President Mike Pence as a 'decent guy.'"

After the audience interjected with boos following the mention of Pence's name, Biden responded, "You're a lovely person."

"Just asking the questions people want to know," Lenz replied.

"I interpreted it as a little condescending," Lenz said afterward, according to The New York Times.

The exchange sparked some criticism on social media, with writer Anand Giridharadas calling it an example of "sexism with a smile."

"Watch him grow angry at @lyzl's solid question -- and then try to slap her down in the most patronizing way," Giridharadas tweeted.

Biden has faced criticism in recent weeks for remarks about race as well as his past positions on racial issues, including his work with segregationist senators to oppose busing at the federal level.

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