Kamala Harris, a senator with a track record in LGBT+ rights, has been chosen as Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential running mate for the 2020 US elections.
Harris previously ran against Biden to be the Democratic nominee but dropped out at the start of this year. Biden’s pick is historic, as Harris will now be the first Black woman and Asian American to run on a major party’s presidential ticket.
“I have the great honour to announce that I’ve picked Kamala Harris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden said in a Tweet yesterday.
Harris has an accomplished professional background, with experience of being a senator, a public prosecutor and California’s Attorney General. Kamala Harris’ relationship with the LGBT+ community stems from these careers.
Harris served as Attorney General at the same time that Proposition 8 needed to be defended in court. Proposition 8 banned same-sex marriage in the state of California, and Harris did not advocate for it. Instead, she would later officiate the first same-sex marriage after the US Supreme Court struck the ban down.
As Attorney General, she also stopped a “gay/trans panic defense” bill from passing – which would have allowed for the murder of LGBT+ people to be excusable under certain circumstances. Additionally, she pushed for legislation banning conversion therapy.
However, Harris has also received push back for halting a court ruling which ordered the gender-affirming surgery of a transgender inmate in a California prison. The block was unsuccessful, and Michelle-Lael Norsworthy became the first trans woman in California and only the second in the US to win a court ruling that granted a request for surgery.
The incident occurred back in 2015, and when asked about it four years later, Harris said: “It was an office with a lot of people… and do I wish that sometimes they would have personally consulted me before they wrote the things that they wrote? Yes, I do.”
She added that she, “Worked behind the scenes to ensure that the Department of Corrections would allow transitioning inmates to receive the medical attention that they required, they needed and deserved.”
Amid the backdrop of Black Lives Matter protests in the US and across the world, Harris has also been criticised for her role as a “top cop” – a label she’s used for herself. As Attorney General, Harris took a hands-off approach towards officer-involved shootings and usually did not intervene unless there was a conflict of interest with the local district attorney.
Despite this history, Harris’ nomination was welcomed by the Human Rights Campaign, who tweeted: “This fall, we have the opportunity to vote for the most historic, pro-equality ticket in history.”
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