Dem debate: What Katy Perry, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Lovato and others would ask

Story highlights

  • What do celebrities, writers and newsmakers want to ask the candidates on Tuesday's Democratic debate?
  • Contributions from Katy Perry, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Lovato, Shonda Rhimes and many more raise pointed issues

(CNN)If you could pose a question to the presidential candidates at the Democratic debate on Tuesday night, what would you ask? CNN Opinion invited celebrities, writers, thought leaders and other newsmakers to share what's on their mind.

Their questions about America's middle class, women's rights, gun violence, political dysfunction and space exploration, among others, are thought-provoking. What would you want to ask the candidates? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook using #DemDebate. Watch the debate on CNN at 8:30 p.m. EST.

Katy Perry, singer and songwriter

    Katy Perry
    With the GOP crusade to defund Planned Parenthood momentarily deflated, how do you intend to consistently protect American women seeking the legal, affordable health care that they so desperately require?

    Ashton Kutcher, actor, entrepreneur and tech investor

    Ashton Kutcher
    During your presidency, you will be faced with a robotic revolution -- for example, driverless cars and semitrucks -- as machines take skilled and unskilled jobs from Americans. This will further hollow out the middle class and divide society. What do you propose we do as a nation to bridge the gap without stifling innovation? What will you do as president to maintain a country where everyone has upward mobility?

    Demi Lovato, singer and actress

    Demi Lovato
    What's the biggest issue with our health care system when it comes to mental health care, and what specifically will you do to fix it?

    Andy Weir, author of 'The Martian'

    Andy Weir
    At present, the United States lacks the ability to send humans into space. If elected, what would your space policy be? Would you work to foster commercial space flight? What directives, if any, would you give to NASA? And, most importantly, what would you do about NASA's budget?

    Shonda Rhimes, creator of 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Private Practice' and 'Scandal'

    Shonda Rhimes
    There is so much divisiveness is our government today. Achieving anything of substance seems impossible because compromise seems impossible. What do you think needs to be done to unite Congress so that they are working more for the good of all of the American people as a whole and less for the good of the partisan interests that seem to have currently halted any hope of legislative change or progress?

    Sir Elton John, singer and activist

    Sir Elton John
    In spite of great progress, HIV/AIDS is actually dramatically on the rise in the U.S. South. What would you do as president to help stop this epidemic, particularly among minority communities?

    Julianna Margulies, actress

    Julianna Margulies
    Next year, the citizens in Nevada will vote on an initiative to require the same Brady background checks that are conducted at licensed gun dealers to be conducted for sales made at gun shows and online. Do you support that initiative and, as president would you seek to make it federal law?

    Andrew Solomon, author

    Andrew Solomon
    How can we shape a foreign policy that fosters appreciation for American values instead of resentment of American privilege? Can cultural diplomacy be revived to achieve this goal, so that our role on the international stage will feel generous rather than self-interested? Will we lead by inspiring example rather than by force?

    David Axelrod, former adviser to the President; CNN senior political commentator

    David Axelrod
    Should Social Security and Medicare benefits be cut to deal with the growing budgetary demands of an aging population or increased to shore up retirees? If the latter, how would you pay for the additional expense?

    Buzz Aldrin, astronaut

    Buzz Aldrin
    A vision-focused, well-funded American space program represents U.S. global leadership, adds to the country's technological strength and promotes educational excellence. As president, what is your plan to rebuild and re-energize America's space exploration agenda?

    Glenn Beck, conservative commentator, founder and owner of The Blaze

    Glenn Beck
    What is the difference between a Social Democrat Progressive and a Constitutionalist?

    Melissa Etheridge, singer and songwriter

    Melissa Etheridge
    Cannabidiol -- known as "CBD" -- is an oil derived from hemp that should never have been lumped together with the definition of marijuana. Legalized in 15 states, including Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and Oklahoma, CBD has been shown to have dramatic anti-seizure effect. But in order for the families in those states to obtain CBD, most have to break federal law that treats CBD as a controlled substance.
    A majority of Republicans and Democrats in Congress support allowing access. If elected, will you pledge to move quickly to provide this relief to the families whose loved ones suffer from seizures associated with epilepsy?

    Ben Stein, former presidential speechwriter

    Ben Stein
    Black Americans are roughly 10 times as likely to die in gun violence as white Americans. Black American males are at least seven times as likely as white American males to be convicted of crimes and incarcerated. The rate of births to single mothers is more than twice as high for black babies as for white babies. The average household wealth for white families is 16 times as high as for black families. Roughly half of all black families have no net wealth at all. The high school dropout rate for blacks is twice that as for whites. In Chicago, a very large number of black students are functionally illiterate.
    Lack of a decent education might well account for much of this. Charter schools for eager black children have shown great results, but are fought tooth and nail by the mighty teachers' unions. Where would any of the candidates come down on this issue? For the black children or for the teachers' unions?

    Judy Gold, actress and comedian

    Judy Gold
    A few months ago, I sent my 13-year-old son out to pick me up some Mucinex and Nyquil. The pharmacist wouldn't give them to him because he's under 16. Why is it easier for him to get a gun than to pick up medicine for his sick mom?

    John Dean, author of 'The Nixon Defense' and former Nixon White House Counsel

    John Dean
    Is it possible to govern in Washington with a totally dysfunctional Republican Party controlling Congress? Shouldn't the Democratic standard bearer focus as much on changing control of Congress as winning the White House?

    Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon and CNN chief medical correspondent

    Sanjay Gupta
    Given the awesome responsibilities of the office and the demands -- physical and mental -- should there be an age and health requirement to be president?

    Margaret Cho, comedian

    Margaret Cho
    How do you allow LGBT couples who are now able to be married under the law full adoption rights in every state? How do we get equal rights to family?

    Jeffrey Toobin, author and CNN senior legal analyst

    Jeffrey Toobin
    If you could take back and change one decision you made in the last four years, what would it be?

    Montel Williams, talk show host

    Montel Williams
    Amir Hekmati has been in Iran's Evin prison for four years, making him the longest-held confirmed American detainee in Iran ever. He is in ill health and his father, plagued with brain cancer, has made seeing his son once more his dying wish. Is it important that this Marine veteran be returned home soon?

    Dick Cavett, author and talk show host

    Dick Cavett
    In the recent Republican debate, many Republican candidates couldn't think of a single American woman, in 240 years of our national history, deserving of being pictured on our $10 bill. Jeb Bush actually suggested putting a former British prime minister on American money. What American woman would you nominate?

    Billie Jean King, tennis champion and founder of Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative

    Billie Jean King
    What programs would you put in place to stop discrimination in the workplace, specifically, on problems related to inequality and lack of inclusion based on gender and sexual orientation?

    Paul F. Tompkins, host of Fusion's 'No, You Shut Up!'

    Paul F. Tompkins
    Do you understand what people mean when they say "black lives matter" and do you understand what is wrong with the response "all lives matter?"

    Gary Bauer, former GOP presidential candidate; president of American Values

    Gary Bauer
    Under President Obama our relationship with our most reliable ally, Israel, is at historic lows. According to the Pew Global Attitudes Survey, less than half of Israelis have confidence in President Obama, while 80% disapprove of his handling of Iran.
    First, if elected president, would you care how the U.S. is viewed in Israel? Second, what policy changes would you make to improve relations with Israel? Third, Ayatollah Khamenei just banned future negotiations with the U.S. Was President Obama wrong to sign a nuclear deal with Iran when Khamenei refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist?

    Martha Plimpton, actress and activist

    Martha Plimpton
    The 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade ensured women's access to abortion throughout the U.S. Yet since then, we've seen a steady reversal of those constitutional protections in the states, with nearly 300 new abortion restrictions enacted in the last five years, more than the previous decade combined. Today, many women are worse off than they were before Roe, with access to this basic and legal health care procedure essentially out of reach.
    Is it time for federal legislation, such as the Women's Health Protection Act or the EACH Woman Act, to protect every woman's right to reproductive health care? Will you fight for legislation that would ensure safe and legal abortion is available to all women, regardless of their ZIP code?