Tag: Kamala

Kamala Harris’ swearing-in could open up a major opportunity for LGBT+ representation in the US Senate

Kamala Harris will give up her Senate seat in January

With Kamala Harris set to become vice president, there could be a vital opportunity to bolster LGBT+ representation in the US Senate.

Harris has represented California in the United States Senate since 2016, but is set to give up her seat in the chamber on January 20 as she assumes office as Joe Biden’s second-in-command.

Under the rules of the chamber, it will be up to Governor of California Gavin Newsom to appoint an interim senator to fill the seat temporarily, serving until a special election can be held to elect a full-time replacement for Kamala Harris.

LGBT+ campaigners have called on Newsom to use the opportunity to bolster  queer representation in the Senate, which has only ever had two out LGBT+ members, Senators Tammy Baldwin and Kyrsten Sinema.

Replacement of Kamala Harris could bolster LGBT+ representation in the US Senate

LGBTQ Victory Fund, which works to bolster LGBT+ representation in politics, has suggested that Newsom could appoint either California state senate president Toni Atkins or Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia, two of the state’s most accomplished LGBT+ leaders, to serve in the seat.

Annise Parker of Victory Fund said: “Governor Newsom is one of the strongest allies we have in elected office and consistently shows courage in his efforts to advance equality, so we are hopeful he will add to his legacy with an LGBTQ appointment.

“Both Senator Atkins and Mayor Garcia represent communities too often denied political power – including women, immigrants and people of colour – furthering the impact their appointment would make.”

Kamala Harris could see her Senate seat filled by an LGBT+ person
Gavin Newsom could appoint either California state senate president pro tempore Toni Atkins or Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia, the group says

Parker continued: “Not just in California but across the country, the LGBTQ community would celebrate an LGBTQ leader taking the position and we will stand by them with resources and support to ensure they succeed.

“We hold immense pride in the leadership of our current LGBTQ US Senators and would be eager to rally behind an LGBTQ US Senator from the largest state in the nation.”

Senate will play a pivotal role in Biden years

The Senate is primed to play an outsized role in US politics during the early years of the Biden administration, with a nail-biting double election in Georgia set for January set to decide control of the chamber.

The best-case scenario for Biden would result in a 50-50 split in the chamber that would require his policy measures to attract support from every single Democratic senator.

If Republicans win the Georgia seats, however, they will maintain control of the chamber and could effectively block much of the president’s agenda, which could spell peril for Biden’s ability to deliver on key promises, including on LGBT+ rights.

Pete Buttigieg reveals how he role-played Mike Pence with Kamala Harris

Pete Buttigieg reveals how he role-played Mike Pence with Kamala

Pete Buttigieg has revealed how he channeled his “inner Mike Pence” while helping Kamala Harris prepare for the vice-presidential debate.

In a strange twist of fate, the gay former presidential candidate has been role-playing as Pence in mock debates with Harris to help her practise.

Appearing in an MNBC segment ahead of the big showdown on Wednesday evening, Pete Buttigieg was asked by Rachel Maddow to describe his process for “channeling your inner Mike Pence” – and the gay former presidential candidate gave a tantalising glimpse.

“A lot of it’s been about anticipating things that might happen, and as we saw in 2016, Mike Pence is someone who is comfortable saying things that are utterly false with a completely straight face,” Buttigieg said.

“It’s one of the reasons that he’s actually a very effective debater. And we wanted to make sure that we’re prepared for that.”

He added that Pence delivers mistruths in a “more soothing much more calming way than Donald Trump but still putting out those same falsehoods.”

Though the idea of Buttigieg impersonating Pence may seem bizarre, in some ways it’s the perfect casting as the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana has a long history with Pence, who served as governor of Indiana before becoming vice president.

And he repeatedly crossed swords with Pence during his Democratic primary campaign – with the vice president posting a smiling selfie alongside a pastor who had called for Buttigieg to “repent” his sexuality.

Buttigieg suggested he’d grown closer to Harris over their mock debates together.

“My respect for Kamala Harris only grew during the time that we were competing and only more so now,” he said.

“She has such a command of the facts and the American people really are with us, but that doesn’t mean that tonight’s debate is going to be an easy task.”

Lesbian Mom and Veteran Political Organizer to be Kamala Harris’ Chief of Staff

Lesbian Mom and Veteran Political Organizer to be Kamala Harris'

Karine Jean-Pierre, a veteran political organizer, commentator, and author, will be the chief of staff for newly announced VP candidate Kamala Harris. She’s also a lesbian mom—and her daughter was her inspiration to join the campaign.

Karine Jean-Pierre

Karine Jean-Pierre at BookExpo at the Javits Center in New York City, May 2019. Photo: Rhododendrites. Used under a (CC BY-SA 4.0) license.

Jean-Pierre, who served as Regional Political Director for the White House Office of Political Affairs in the Obama administration and as Deputy Battleground States Director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, was more recently chief public affairs officer for MoveOn and an NBC and MSNBC Political Analyst. She had already been serving as a senior advisor to the Biden campaign, and will continue that role while also acting as chief of staff to Kamala Harris, NBC News reports. She is also on the faculty of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

In an interview with Hollywood Life at the end of July, she spoke about her reasons for being part of the Biden campaign, saying, “I felt like this is my job as a mom to step in. I thought about my six year-old and I thought about what kind of planet or world or country are we going to be leaving to her and her peers,” adding, “I’m a Black woman, I’m a gay woman and I’m an immigrant. And Donald Trump, he is someone who hates everything I am.”

Jean-Pierre was born in Martinique to Haitian parents but raised in New York City. In her 2019 book, Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America, she writes about her unconventional path to political involvement and how and why others, no matter their backgrounds, need to step up and participate today.

Being a lesbian mom alone isn’t enough—but Jean-Pierre has the experience and insight to make many positive contributions to the campaign—and to our country. And having a Black lesbian mom as the closest advisor to the person who could be a heartbeat away from the presidency? That’s pretty cool. (Though admittedly not quite as cool as having a Black lesbian mom president. Maybe someday….)

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Kamala Harris Will Be Our Next Vice President-If We Work Together

Kamala Harris Will Be Our Next Vice President-If We Work

We have our ticket: California Senator Kamala Harris will be Joe Biden’s running mate, bringing her intelligence and drive to bear in what may be the most important election of our lifetimes. Their win is far from certain, however—which is why each of us needs to do what we can to help.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

Harris is the first Black and Indian American woman to represent California in the U.S. Senate. She was previously the California attorney general, overseeing the country’s second largest justice department after the U.S. Department of Justice.

She has been a long-time defender of LGBTQ rights, most notably when, as attorney general, she chose not to defend Proposition 8, California’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the ban in 2013, she then conducted the wedding of Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, the two moms who were plaintiffs in the case.

Even before that, as San Francisco’s district attorney, “she created a special hate crime unit focused on crimes against LGBTQ children and teens” and “pushed for legislation to ban a gay/transgender ‘panic’ defense and to ban conversion therapy for minors,” as John Gallagher of LGBTQ Nation reminds us.

As a U.S. senator, “Harris has taken major steps to lead efforts on LGBTQ rights, including the introduction of pro-LGBTQ legislation in addition to drawing attention to the anti-LGBTQ policies of the Trump administration,” notes Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade.

Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund (and a lesbian mom), said in a statement today:

With Joe Biden’s announcement that Senator Kamala Harris will be his running mate, history has been made. As the third woman and the first woman of color to be a Vice Presidential candidate, millions of people across the country will finally see themselves reflected in this historic choice. If elected, it will be the first time a woman and a woman of color would have held federal executive office in the United States of America which will forever shift what our nation’s leaders will look like in history.

Alphonso David, president of HRC, called Harris an “outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community” and the Biden-Harris ticket “our nation’s most pro-equality ticket in history.”

National LGBTQ Task Force Deputy Director Kierra Johnson wisely cautioned, however:

As a Black, queer woman and leader in the LGBTQ movement, I know far too well how women of color are often asked to fix all that’s wrong with our systems in a short period time as if it didn’t take centuries for the system to become as corrupt as it is. We join with others who have recently challenged the media and others to be attuned to the racism and sexism targeting candidates, including Senator Harris.

Many of us can find at least some reason the Biden-Harris ticket isn’t perfect. There’s likely some position or action of Biden or Harris that we don’t condone. Their ticket is, however, orders of magnitude better than that of Trump and Pence, not only on LGBTQ rights, but on racial justice, education, health care, the environment, and dealing with the pandemic, among many other key issues.

In order to get them elected, however, we need to do some work between now and November 3. At the very least, we must vote and encourage others to do so as well. (Are you registered to vote? Are you sure? If not, do it now.) We can also get involved with the campaign in many ways, including socially distanced ones.

We can also help out with nonpartisan voter outreach campaigns like Reclaim Our Vote to help ensure every American can exercise this fundamental right, or stay involved with LGBTQ and other social justice organizations that I’m sure will be doing a ton of work leading up to the election.

The Trump era has been damaging to so many people in so many ways. We have the chance to change this. Many of us have practice in fighting for our rights, in doing outreach for causes near to our hearts, in talking with neighbors and family and friends about why these things matter. Let’s use those skills now to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, making our country one that our children can be proud of once again.