Kamala Harris: The Good, Bad and Questionable
By Erica Fish
When presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden announced his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, progressive support has been underway for the duo.
Harris is the first Black and South Asian American woman in running for a major presidential decision, according to CNN.
Vowing to take the fight for national support against President Trump and Vice-President Pence, Kamala Harris has stood out as a candidate who supports on-record equality for all persons.
“I do see how having a woman in the White House would prove equality existing in our political system,” said LGBTQ+ community member and FGCU student Brice Clayton.
As one of the earliest politicians to support marriage equality, Harris’ prior record for trans rights has led some LGBTQ+ support to stall, making Harris a somewhat complicated vote.
Senator Harris is hailed as a solid choice for the vice-presidential nomination, but for the LGBTQ+ community, she is not a straight shoot in the park.
Kamala Harris has gone for bills criminalizing sex work, and at times, has not been an advocate for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Kamala has spoken up with support for transgender people having equal access to public restrooms, although, her past words cannot be discredited,” said LGBTQ+ member and FGCU student, Glenn Lopez. “She spoke up against the trans community and she needs to take ownership of it.”
While Harris seems to have changed her tune, she wasn’t always an advocate for the transgender community.
“Harris’ words cannot be erased; otherwise, it’s as if people are picking and choosing the details they want to hear and hailing someone as a person who does no wrong,” said Lopez. “This could create possible issues if Kamala doesn’t own up to any wrongdoings in the future and people let it slide.”
Kamala Harris has taken on political strategies in defending victims of anti-LGBTQ+ violence, and as Biden’s running mate, Senator Harris does seek to rewrite her past on previous decisions made when prosecutor.
In 2015, Harris faced criticism for her decision to block gender-affirming medical care for a trans woman in prison, and four years later, her response to this, was that she was obligated to defend the state, according to the Washington Blade.
“Regardless of who the individual is, if you are promised reassignment surgery, then it is unfair and unjust to withhold this from them,” Clayton said.
After California’s 2008 Supreme Court decision to overturn the state’s LGBTQ+ marriage ban, Harris began to officiate queer marriages, according to the 19th News.
Harris brings a pro-LGBTQ+ bonus to Biden’s campaign, her previous work includes frequently sponsoring equality legislation and speaking out against the violence transgenders experience.
“Harris does stand on good policies, and even though, for some, it can be challenging to look past her previous mistakes; people can change, and Harris has proven her commitment to the community,” Clayton said.
This is a complete difference when comparing Harris’ past decisions for trans persons…
San Francisco has the highest percentage of adults who identify as transgender, gay, bisexual or lesbian than any other city in the United States, according to the Time.
While every politician has to be a chameleon in order to get the vote and to get the support they need, we’re not all running for Vice President.
Harris won her position in California after changing her platform to fit the views of the election she was running for at the time; which meant getting the vote from the LGBTQ+ community.
But morphing into what the public wants, does not mean you can change your opinions for the sake of the winning vote.
“Kamala’s actions seemingly bring awareness and support for minorities, and while she has said some things that she needs to be held accountable for, she still seems to be a better choice overall,” Lopez said.
It can be understood why those who question Harris as a promising choice for presidency, since her role has questionably panned out in California.
After her 2016 Senate win, Harris established a hate crimes unit to investigate and prosecute anti-LGBTQ+ violence which then grew to the national level by 2018.
Seen as a political reformer and ally, Harris has withstood the judgement for her previous obligations when working in the criminal system; which has now led her to be on the 2020 presidential ballot.
“Harris has supported gay marriages in the past and has voted and helped pass laws which support LGBT peoples,” said Clayton. “She cares for the community and hopes to help make it more accepting for anyone it has oppressed. We’ll just see what happens in November.”