The leading US Democratic Party Presidential candidates have taken part in a groundbreaking televised discussion on LGBT issues.

Six of the Democratic presidential candidates participated in the forum, including Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, Governor Richardson, former Senator Edwards, Representative Kucinich and former Senator Gravel. The leading Republican candidates were also invited but declined participation.

Each of the candidates responded to questions for 15 minutes posed by a pre-selected panel composed of singer Melissa Etheridge, journalists Margaret Carlson and Jonathan Capehart and Human Rights Campaign executive director Joe Solomonese. The event was broadcast on gay cable channel Logo.

The event has received mixed responses from many commentators, with Richardson surprising the panel by stating that he believed that sexual orientation is a “choice.”

All of the candidates expressed a belief that same-sex couples deserve federal recognition through some form of legal union. They disagreed however on whether the recognition should be defined as “marriage”, with Obama stating that the word marriage was “just semantics.”

They also unanimously agreed that the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ ban on lesbians and gays serving in the US military should be repealed. Clinton said that if she became President she would reverse Washington’s current anti-gay tone: “It’s been demeaning and degrading. That will end. That is over.”

The candidates have also stated their support for extending federal benefits and equal tax treatment, currently only available to heterosexual married couples and same-sex couples who are parties to a union legally recognised in some US states.

The Logo channel reaches 28 million homes in the US. The debate was also broadcast live on the Internet.

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