Inauguration Day 2021: Meet America's first ever 'second gentleman' - Kamala Harris' husband Douglas Emhoff

Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff with wife and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Credit: AP

Douglas Emhoff – a name that probably does not mean all that much to many people right now – is about to become a household name.

Step forward America’s first ‘second gentleman’ – aka the husband of US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

With Harris becoming the first woman to take on the role of vice president, Emhoff will become the first male spouse of a vice president in US history come Inauguration Day on January 20 - and by the look of his social media feed he couldn’t be prouder.

There had been some uncertainty as to what Emhoff’s official title would be, as the only people to serve in the role have been women and they have all been referred to as the ‘second lady’.

However, Harris confirmed in an interview with CNN that her 56-year-old husband will take the title of ‘second gentleman’ – although she joked his friends may refer to him as ‘second dude’ and she will simply refer to him as ‘honey’.

But what do we know about the ‘second gentleman’ and what role will he take in the White House?

Early life and career

Douglas Emhoff was born on October 13 1964, just seven days before Harris, in Brooklyn, New York to Jewish parents, Barbara and Michael Emhoff, the family spent just a few years in Brooklyn before moving to New Jersey, where the 56-year-old spent most of his childhood.

Another move when Emhoff was a teenager took the family to California where he remained and attended California State University for his undergraduate degree and the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, where he earned a law degree.

A career in law beckoned, and he became an entertainment lawyer, among his most famous clients was representing the ad agency behind the Taco Bell Chihuahua.

He then spent a decade at a corporate firm Venable and rose the ranks to become partner at DLA Piper – one of the largest law firms in the world – where he is described as a “highly experienced litigator and strategic advisor” who “represents large domestic and international corporations and some of today’s highest profile individuals and influencers in complex business, real estate, and intellectual property litigation disputes”.

Kamala Harris walks off stage with her husband Douglas Emhoff after the vice presidential debate. Credit: AP

However, just days after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ historic victory was announced, Emhoff announced he would leave his law firm by Inauguration Day to prevent a conflict of interest.

He will instead focus on a role at the White House and will work “with the Biden-Harris transition team to develop the portfolio he will focus on to support the work of the administration," a spokesperson for the transition team said.

But the White House role isn’t the only job Emhoff will be adding to his CV, he will join the faculty of Georgetown University Law Center, where he’ll teach a course on entertainment law disputes.

“I’ve long wanted to teach and serve the next generation of young lawyers,” Emhoff said. “I couldn’t be more excited to join the Georgetown community.”

Douglas Emhoff on the election campaign trail. Credit: AP

The Harris and Emhoff love story

Harris and Emhoff met on a blind date, set up by Harris’ best friend, Chrisette Hudlin, when Harris was California’s attorney general.

The pair hit it off, and the morning after their first date, Emhoff wrote Harris an email: “I’m too old to play games or hide the ball,’ he wrote. “I really like you, and I want to see if we can make this work.”

They married less than a year later, after a whirlwind romance, in a civil ceremony held at the Santa Barbara courthouse – Harris’ younger sister Maya officiated.

August 22 marked their six-year anniversary and in a celebratory Instagram post, Harris wrote: "Happy anniversary to the man who always knows how to make me laugh. Love you."

Previous children

Prior to his relationship with Harris, the 56-year-old was married to Kerstin Emhoff for 16 years, who he has two adult children with – Cole and Ella.

Harris has spoken affectionately about her two stepchildren and the special moniker they have for her – ‘Momala’.

In an article in Elle, Harris wrote about her anticipation before meeting the children, how she wore Converse and bought cookies when she first met them.

“Cole and Ella could not have been more welcoming. They are brilliant, talented, funny kids who have grown to be remarkable adults. I was already hooked on Doug, but I believe it was Cole and Ella who reeled me in,” Harris wrote.

She says she has become “dear friends” with Emhoff’s ex-wife Kerstin and they use to attend Ella’s swim meets and basketball games together.

Harris wrote: “We sometimes joke that our modern family is almost a little too functional.”

Harris’ hype man

If you need an indication of the support and affection Emhoff holds for the Vice President-elect, just take a look at his Twitter bio.

He describes himself as "dad, @kamalaharrishubby, lawyer, wannabe golfer, advocate for justice and equality."

Clearly he is proud of his wife and when the historic election result was announced, he wrote: "So proud," alongside a picture of him hugging Harris.

Throughout the election campaign, Emhoff may have shied away from the spotlight, but his presence on social media is huge, constantly posting campaign messages, capturing her on the campaign trail and showing off his election merchandise.

He even has his own online following known as the #DougHive, modelled after Harris' supporters and the #KHive.

Emhoff also takes an active role in his wife's career, and rushed onstage in June when a protester came close enough to grab the microphone from her and helped drag the man away.

He spoke about his endearing love for his wife in a recent interview with Marie Claire: “Imagine working from home with Kamala Harris, during a pandemic and all the other issues going on.

“She just works hard, and she’s relentless.…It’s just incredible how much she does.”

Emhoff also spoke about the fact he was there for her as a husband not a colleague when Harris made the difficult decision to drop out of running for president.

“She made that decision, and I would have supported whatever she decided,” Emhoff said.

“But I’m not her political adviser. I’m her husband. And so my role was to be there for her, to love her, to have her back, to talk it through, to help her.”