Democratic presidential contenders faced pointed questions on gay marriage and the basis for sexual orientation in a forum that forced candidates to confront politically touchy issues that have vexed a nation.
Former Sen. John Edwards found himself discussing whether he is comfortable around gay people — he said he is. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson appeared to struggle with a question about why people become gay or lesbian. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton ended up defending the record of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, on gay rights.