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Former Vice President Joe Biden's panel at the LGBTQ Presidential Forum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, became terse after moderator and columnist Lyz Lenz pressed him on his past votes and characterization of Vice President Mike Pence as a "decent guy."
"In 1994, you did vote for 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and in 1996 you voted for the Defense of Marriage Act. You did vote to repeal both of those, but you have also praised Vice President Mike Pence as a 'decent guy,'" Lenz said, to which the crowd responded with jeers.
"You're a lovely person," Biden responded, to scattered laughs. "I'm just asking the questions that people want to know," she replied, to cheers and applause.
At a forum on LGBTQ issues for Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden fumbled his interview with Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist Lyz Lenz. When Lenz pressed him on his record toward LGBTQ issues, he responded in a way that she later told The New York Times was "a little condescending."
The exchange was captured on video, in front of an audience of 700. While questioning the candidate, Lenz said "In 1994, you did vote for 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and in 1988 you voted for the Defense of Marriage Act. You did vote to repeal both of those, but you have also praised Vice President Mike Pence as a 'decent guy.'"
In response to Biden's praise of the current vice president, who has a record of anti-gay stances, the crowd booed. Biden responded by saying "You're a lovely person," and laughter could be heard.
"I'm just asking the questions that people want to knows," Lenz replied, to cheering and applause.
She also tweeted that as the two departed the stage, Biden said "You're a real sweetheart," to her, dryly.
In his full response to Lenz's questioning, Biden pointed out that he came out in support of same-sex marriage days before former President Barack Obama did. "I didn't have to evolve," Biden said.
Several prominent feminists responded to Lenz's tweet with praise, including the author Jessica Valenti, who replied that she was "a f---ing hero." Biden supporters pointed out that the candidate responded quickly on Twitter to his own praise of Pence, noting that "there is nothing decent about being anti-LGBTQ rights, and that includes the Vice President."
Biden also said that he has been sympathetic to same-sex couples ever since he was a child, and saw two men kiss in Wilmington, Delaware, where Biden is from. The candidate said his father said "'Joey, it's simple. They love each other."
The forum was hosted by GLAAD and was the first event of its kind for the 2020 Democratic primary. Another LGBTQ town hall-style event for the Democratic candidates is being hosted by the Human Rights Campaign and will be broadcast by CNN on October 10 in LA.
Neither Lenz nor Biden's campaign immediately responded to Business Insider's request for comment.