Until this election, we will have only had “First Ladies” and “Second Ladies.” Now, with Kamala Harris as Vice President-elect, we have the first “Second Gentleman” in American history.
Traditionally, the spouses of the president and vice president resign their jobs to become the full-time spouses of the White House. Doug Emhoff, Harris’ husband, is joining the ranks of these full-time spouses, putting his wife’s career ahead of his own.
56-year-old Emhoff will leave the private practice, DLA Piper, by Inauguration Day 2021 to focus on his role at the White House. In the meantime, he is working with the transition team to determine what issues he will tackle as Second Gentleman.
Kim Nalder, a political science professor at California State University-Sacramento focusing on women and gender, said, “We’ve been waiting for this sort of gender switch for decades now. There is a lot of symbolism from a man stepping back from his high-powered career in order to support his wife’s career.”
Emhoff is not a lobbyist, but his firm has a large lobbying presence in federal government settings, working with clients like Comcast, the government of Puerto Rico, and Raytheon. The new Second Gentleman’s decision to cut ties with his partnership is one of the early signs of how the Biden administration will avoid potential ethical issues as well as demonstrating a further vision for what America could be through gender equality.
As previous White House spouses before him, Emhoff will likely focus his public activities on advocacy campaigns, public awareness of important matters, and similar humanitarian and human betterment causes.
“I want more women in office, and I want more partners, whoever their partner is, to support them and to provide an opportunity and an environment for success,” Emhoff told NowThisNews in an interview in October.
Emhoff is also to be the first Jewish spouse of the White House and is a prominent liaison to Jewish groups and donors. He has a close friendship with Jill Biden, former Second Lady, and soon-to-be First Lady. She plans to continue teaching at community college while President Biden is in office.
Harris and Emhoff met in 2013 when Harris was in her 40s and never married. They married one year later. Emhoff had previously been married and his grown children in their 20s call Harris “Momala,” playing on her name and the Yiddish word for “little mother.”
The day the Biden/Harris election win was announced, on November 9, Harris tweeted a picture of herself with Emhoff, saying simply, “Meet the love of my life.”