I have two Kamala Harris experiences that I treasure.
The first was in 2008, right after California passed Prop 8, which ended marriage equality. Back then in San Francisco, you couldn’t change the hours of a museum gift shop without twelve public outreach meetings and a couple of rallies at City Hall, so of course there were a ton of marches and protests and speeches in the weeks that followed the election. Kamala attended many of them.
After we marched from the Castro to Government Center one night, Kamala stood on the steps of City Hall to let us know that the full apparatus of city government was behind us, and would fight alongside us. She was good to her word: In the following weeks, San Francisco city government devoted an absolutely incredible volume of resources to the case. It was inspiring.
My second Kamala Harris experience was more forceful.
It was several years later, and I was working on the lawsuit to overturn Proposition 8. The Supreme Court of the United States had ruled in our favor (well, technically, upheld a lower court that ruled in our favor) and we were expecting it to take a couple more weeks for the decision to go into effect. Then one Friday afternoon, the legal team got word that the ruling was going into effect that afternoon.
On a moment’s notice, I bundled into a car with two of the plaintiffs in the case, Paul and Jeff, and we zoomed off to the closest registrar’s office that was still open late on a Friday. I think it was in Riverside.
On the way, Paul and Jeff called their family to let them know they were about to get married. Maybe. Hopefully. There had been a lot of false alarms at that point.
When we arrived, nobody at the office had heard about the ruling going into effect, and they were all understandably suspicious. The head of the office was a polite small-town bureaucrat in a buttoned-down shirt who just wanted to do his job by the book. We kept telling him that the court had lifted the ban, and he clearly wanted what we were saying to be true, but he couldn’t just start issuing marriage licenses without documentation from the court. It was starting to look like the marriages wouldn’t start after all.
Then someone pulled out a cell phone and called Kamala Harris’ office. She took the call.
Kamala was the Attorney General of California at that point, and when the person with the phone handed it over to the local registrar I could see his eyes widen as he realized who he was talking to. Paul and Jeff had their paperwork within minutes, and then an hour or so later, the mayor of LA married them live on Rachel Maddow.
Kamala Harris isn’t 100% there on every issue that’s important to me. She never will be. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get over how she denied medical care to trans inmates.
But I also saw first-hand that at a crucial moment, she was ready to ensure that justice would be done. You can watch video of the moment, from both sides of the cell phone call, here.
Now I hope that she’ll continue to answer her phone when it rings, and listen to the justice called for by the people she represents.