Where Kamala Harris Stacks Up on LGBTQ Rights

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday November 16, 2020

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris  (Source:AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Kamala Harris has just made history in a few ways, becoming the first woman to be elected Vice President. Harris is also the first Black woman and first person of South Asian descent to be elected into the White House.

Entering the White House with President-elect Joe Biden, the LGBTQ community will have two strong allies not present in the current administration. Current VP Mike Pence's strident and notorious anti-LGBTQ positions only contrast with the odd pro-gay rhetoric of Donald Trump, as the current administration has continued to roll back equal rights and protections acquired under the Obama administration.

After Biden won the Presidency on Saturday, both the President and Vice President-elect offered rousing and emotional speeches at a rally that evening. Earlier that morning on Twitter, Harris proclaimed that "we have a lot of work ahead of us. Let's get started." One can't help but wonder how a Biden/Harris administration will impact legal rights and protections for the LGBTQ community — which is an especially pertinent issue, given the GOP's quickly pushed-through confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett despite objections of Democrats, as well as signaling from Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito about their willingness to reverse pro-LGBTQ rights and protections.

While President-elect Biden's pro-LGBTQ stances are well-known, perhaps VP-elect Harris' are in need of closer examination.

In short, Harris refused to support a 2008 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, officiating the first same-sex marriage in the state of California in 2013. Harris and her Democratic colleagues in the Senate, Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), introduced the Do No Harm Act in 2018, preventing discrimination against LGBTQ people on the basis of religious beliefs. Harris has also been critical of the Trump administration's removal of LGBTQ-related health information from Federal websites, and of the administration's negligence toward the LGBTQ community in general.

However, in 2015, as Attorney General for the state of California, Harris argued against gender reassignment surgery for two transgender inmates serving time. Harris has since said that, as Attorney General, she only acting on behalf of the California Department of Corrections.

While this appears to be somewhat of a blemish on her record, Harris has been rated as an "exceptional choice" for Vice President by the Human Rights Campaign, with a "deep understanding of and empathy for the issues our community faces." Furthermore, as HRC states, "it's clear the Biden-Harris ticket marks our nation's most pro-equality ticket in history."

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

Comments on Facebook