With the addition of the California Senator, Joe Biden has assembled the most pro-equality presidential ticket in U.S. history.
When Kamala Harris accepted Joe Biden’s invitation to become his running mate, she brought to the table a pro-LGBTQI+ political record that goes back to 2004, when she was sworn in as District Attorney of San Francisco.
Arguably, this is the most pro-equality ticket in history, as it is shown by these five key indicators in Harris’ career:
- Hate Crimes Unit: As San Francisco Attorney General, in 2004 Harris established a hate crimes unit to investigate and prosecute anti-LGBTQI+ violence. In 2006, she organized a conference to discuss strategies to end the use of the so-called “gay and transgender panic defense”— a legal strategy in which a defendant claims they acted in a state of violent, temporary insanity because of unwanted sexual advances. This paved the way for California to become the first state in the nation to ban this practice in law. As U.S. Senator, in 2018, Harris co-authored a bill to prohibit the practice nationally.
- Rejection of “Kill the Gays” Proposition: As California’s Attorney General, she fervently refused to defend Proposition 8–a ban on marriage equality passed by popular vote in 2008. In 2013, a federal court declared it unconstitutional, and later a different ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court had a similar effect. After marriage equality returned to California, Harris officiated the wedding of the couple who were plaintiffs in the case, the first marriage of an LGBTQI+ couple performed in the state following the decision. In 2015, she declined to certify a measure to institute the death penalty for same-sex acts, better known as the “Kill the Gays” initiative. Harris asked a judge to relieve her from her duties as attorney general to make carry on with the legal process that would allow the creator of the initiative to seek supporting signatures, and the court sided with her by declaring the proposition was unconstitutional.
- Ally in the Senate: As a senator, Harris has been a staunch ally of LGBTQI+ rights, frequently co-sponsoring pro-equality legislation and speaking out against violence faced by trans women. She is also a co-sponsor of the Equality Act, a congressional bill that would amend many nondiscrimination laws to include LGBTQI+ people and protect us in many areas uncovered to this date including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.
- Presidential Platform: As candidate for president, she called for ending the transgender military ban and religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws. Harris has also vowed to push for the reversal of policies that discriminate against LGBTQI+ people in adoption, housing and public accommodations. Harris even promised to create a White House advocate for LGBTQI+ affairs, something she hopefully will advocate for as the next Vice President. She also vowed to put LGBTQI+ people in the Cabinet and top positions if she were elected.
- Perfect Score: In every single one of her three years as a U.S. Senator, Harris has earned a perfect 100 on every Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Congressional Scorecard. She supports efforts to prevent anti-LGBTQI+ bullying in schools. She also opposes using religion as a license to discriminate. And she also supports banning harmful “conversion therapy.”
In sum, Kamala Harris has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to human rights for all LGBTQI+ people throughout her career. And she joins Joe Biden, who announced his support of marriage equality before President Barack Obama came out in favor of it.
Biden and Harris are staunch supporters and allies of the LGBTQI+ struggle, a stark contrast to the regressive and harmful policies enacted by Donald Trump and Mike Pence. We will all breathe a sigh of relief when Biden and Harris are sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States next January.