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September Candidates Climate Forum to Go On Despite Dropping Sponsor

"The voters deserve to know where all of the Democratic candidates stand on this issue, and how exactly they would address the climate crisis if elected."

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg hosts a town hall meeting at the Lions Den in Fort Dodge, Iowa on April 16, 2019.

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg hosts a town hall meeting at the Lions Den in Fort Dodge, Iowa on April 16, 2019. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A candidates' forum to discuss the climate crisis will go on despite several of the event's co-sponsors dropping out over an offensive article about one of the candidates because the environmental catastrophe "is simply too important to be ignored or sidelined in the 2020 presidential race."

The presidential climate summit, which is a direct response to the DNC's refusal to allow a debate focused on the climate crisis for the party's two dozen primary candidates, is scheduled for September 23 in New York City. 

The event was originally sponsored primarily by progressive outlets Gizmodo and The New Republic, but the latter dropped out Sunday after backlash from an article about South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg drew outrage and accusations of homophobia. 

The essay, an opinions piece by openly gay writer Dale Peck, mocked Buttigieg by calling him "Mary Pete" and implying he was too promiscuous to govern the country effectively. After intense criticism, the magazine pulled the piece, saying, in an editor's note, that "we regret its publication."

Buttigieg, on Saturday, said he "appreciated that article was taken down."

"I don't think it really reflects the New Republic that I know," said Buttigieg.

In response to the piece, a number of groups pulled out of the forum, which was announced Thursday, one day before the offensive opinion piece was published. 

"In reaction to The New Republic article, the League of Conservation Voters, NRDC Action Fund, Earthjustice Action, and the Center for American Progress Action Fund have decided to remove themselves from the event," Gizmodo's Maddie Stone said in a statement. 

On Sunday, The New Republic also withdrew. Gizmodo told HuffPost on Sunday that it hoped the groups would rejoin in light of that decision. 

In her statement, Stone said that Gizmodo supported the decision of The New Republic to withdraw as its article was "was entirely inconsistent with our values as journalists and with the inclusive atmosphere we intend to foster at the event."

Nonetheless, Stone said, the show would go on. 

"The voters deserve to know where all of the Democratic candidates stand on this issue, and how exactly they would address the climate crisis if elected," said Stone. "We still believe our focused forum is the best way to give climate change—an issue that intersects so many others, from health care to immigration to inequality—the nuanced attention it deserves."

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