The nomination of Senator Kamala Harris as the Vice Presidential candidate by the democrats was hailed as a historic decision that will influence greatly the political dynamics of the United States. The California Senator is the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father. She is the first woman to be nominated for such a position and also the first Black and Asian-American woman.
Kamala Harris has many other merits backed by a record and reputation she’s earned over the course of her career—making her a great choice for the VP position. Over the years, Senator Harris has been a strong advocate on various issues including marijuana, LGBTQ rights, the death penalty, school truancy, and human trafficking.
Senator Harris’ stance on marijuana is somewhat controversial. During her time as the ‘Top Cop of California,’ she put over 1,500 people in jail due to marijuana-related offenses. Now as a Vice Presidential candidate, Harris seems to be adopting a more progressive stance on the issue. Last year during her campaign for the presidential nomination, Senator Harris agreed with the More Act that calls for not only the legalization of marijuana, but also to create entrepreneurship opportunities for people of color in the marijuana business. Last month, Harris extended support for marijuana-related reforms and revealed the Biden-Harris administration will decriminalize the use of marijuana and all cases related to marijuana will be expunged.
Kamala Harris has been one of the earliest to support LGBTQ rights. As the San Francisco district attorney, Kamala Harris established a unit to investigate and prosecute violence against the LGBTQ community. In 2006, she organized a conference that was aimed at finding a way to end the Gay/Trans Panic Defense — a legal defense defined by the LGBT Bar as “a legal strategy which asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction, including murder.”
“Part of my agenda also is to encourage victims of hate crimes to come forward. Hopefully this conference symbolizes the fact that we take seriously these crimes and our responsibility to protect these victims, and that [the victims] will be treated with dignity because we understand who they are and understand their experience.”Kamala Harris, 2006.
In 2018, Harris along with other Senators introduced the Gay and Trans Panic Defense Prohibition Act in the Senate and House to prohibit this defense across the country. During her presidential campaign last year, Harris made it clear that if given the opportunity, she will make legislations that will prevent discrimination against the LGBTQ community. The Biden-Harris administration is also expected to make changes in laws related to housing, military service, and health care that will provide protection and opportunities for the LGBTQ community.
Kamala Harris has maintained a firm opposition to capital punishment during her career as an attorney and also as a United States Senator. When she entered politics in 2004, Senator Harris promised that she would never seek capital punishment and abide by it during her time in the office. Last year when the Trump administration decided to resume the death penalty, Harris termed this action as ‘misguided’ and ‘immoral’ stating: “As a career law enforcement official, I have long opposed the death penalty because it is discriminatory, irreversible, ineffective, and a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars.“
Our justice system is supposed to treat all equally, but the death penalty has been proven to be unequally applied. Black and Latino defendants are far more likely to be executed than their white counterparts. And poor defendants are far more likely to enter death row than those who can afford strong representation. Your race or your bank account should not determine your sentence. The death penalty is also a waste of taxpayer money — money that could be invested in schools, health care, and restorative justice programs.”Kamala Harris, 2019.
Kamala Harris has always shown strict behaviors towards parents that fail to fulfill their responsibilities towards their children. Truancy critics deem efforts as ‘unfairly targeting poor parents and children without actually helping students.’ During her time as the Attorney General, Harris pushed for legislation to charge those parents whose children miss 10% of the school year without any valid reason. At most, the legislation prosecuted 20 parents in a typical year, but none were jailed. The charge is considered a lower-level infraction that would result in a fine that is $100 per child in San Francisco that can also result in thousands of dollars under state law. As a Vice President, it is expected that Harris will apply a reformed version of this law to save the future of millions of children across America.
Child pornography and sex work is major issue in the United States and around the world. Harris has always advocated the protection of children forced into sex work. Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry—one that Harris is strongly against. In 2005, human trafficking first became a felony with the California Human Trafficking Victims Protection Act—co-sponsored by Harris when she served as the District Attorney of San Francisco. Harris has opposed human trafficking at every forum and used every opportunity to advocate for this cause. In 2012, Attorney General Harris sponsored an anti-human trafficking bill that was evident of her ideology upon the issue.
Vice President Kamala Harris
Senator Kamala Harris is set to become the next Vice President of the United States. If the democrats win the presidential election, Harris will become the first woman to ever hold this position. Being the first is nothing new for Kamala Harris. In 2003, Harris became the first woman to be elected District Attorney in San Francisco’s history as well as the first Black woman in California to hold that office. In a citywide election running against an incumbent, it was also her first run for public office.
Harris has fought for the rights of common citizens of this country for decades. It is expected that if given the chance, she will continue to do so and champion those voices. Under a Biden-Harris administration, she will continue to advocate for these issues as she has been throughout her career.