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Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama

Leading Democratic presidential candidates will participate in an unprecedented televised debate focusing exclusively on “gay,” bisexual and transgender issues.

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards have confirmed they will take part in the one-hour Aug. 9 event in Los Angeles scheduled to be broadcast on the homosexual-oriented LOGO network and live streamed at LOGOonline.com.

Several other Democratic candidates also might join the debate, reports 365Gay.com, a subsidiary of LOGO.

MTV Networks launched LOGO two years ago as the television “home” for homosexual viewers.

The panel questioning the candidates will include singer Melissa Etheridge, who identifies herself as a lesbian, and Joe Solmonese, president of the homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign.

“In the 2008 presidential election, issues of concern to the LGBT community have already been at the forefront of the national conversation,” said Solmonese, according to 365Gay.com.

Solomonese, who also is a singer, said voters undoubtedly will demand a response to issues such as repeal of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and the recent signing of a civil union bill in New Hampshire.

Other debate topics will include same-sex marriage, HIV/AIDS, “hate crimes” and job discrimination.

Los Angeles was chose, LOGO said, because of California’s early primary election, Feb. 5, 2008.

The “LGBT” – “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender” – vote, LOGO says, “is considered a decisive electoral force and according to exit poll data make up approximately 4 percent of the voting population.”

“We’re honored to give the presidential candidates an historic opportunity to share their views directly with the LGBT audience,” said Brian Graden, president of entertainment for MTV Networks Music Group and president of LOGO.

The presidential debate, he said in a statement, will continue “MTV Networks’ tradition of engaging vital niche audiences with voting and the electoral process.”

Viewers will be able to offer their own questions for the candidates through LOGOonline.com and the Human Rights Campaign website.


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