The vice president met Emhoff, a lawyer, in 2013 on a blind date set up by one of her best friends. They married the following year at a Santa Barbara, California, courthouse when they were both two months shy of 50 years old. (Their birthdays are a week apart.)
This is the first marriage for Harris, who was attorney general of California at the time they wed, and the second for Emhoff, who has two adult children, Cole and Ella, with this ex-wife, Kerstin Emhoff. Cole and Ella affectionately call Harris “Momala,” and she and Kerstin are good friends. In fact, Kerstin volunteered for Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign and was in attendance when the new vice president was sworn in on Jan. 20.
“It’s a cool dynamic we all have,” Ella recently told The New York Times of their family. “And I think it is a good model to show that you can have this and this isn’t weird. Like it’s not weird to be friends or have a good relationship with your ex. It’s actually very healthy.”
Now, Doug Emhoff is showing America how male partners can gracefully take a step back from their own professions to uplift the careers of the women in their lives — something women have traditionally done for men, often without thanks. He took a leave of absence from his duties as a partner at the law firm DLA Piper — one of the largest in the world — in August when Harris was tapped as Joe Biden’s running mate and announced his plans to leave the firm after they won the election in November. (Emhoff’s connection to DLA Piper could have presented conflicts of interest.) Instead, he will teach a class at Georgetown University Law Center while he focuses on his new role as second gentleman.
“I want [my kids] to grow up in a world where it isn’t news that a loving partner— of any gender — supports them in everything they do,” Emhoff wrote in an essay for GQ ahead of the inauguration.
Below, we’ve rounded up 11 heartfelt quotes about Harris and Emhoff’s relationship.
On Why He Fell In Love With Her
“The moment I met Kamala, I knew I was in love. Not just because of who she is— the warm, funny, and compassionate woman who grounds our family — but also because of the deep resolve with which she fights for the causes she believes in.” — Emhoff
On Googling Him Before They Met
“My best friend set us up on a blind date. And she said, ‘Just trust me. Just trust me.’ You know, she wanted me to just kind of go into it, and she said, ‘Don’t Google him.’ [But] I did!” — Harris
On Pursuing Her After The First Date
“I didn’t want it to end. And so the next morning, I pulled the move of emailing her with my availabilities for the next four months, including long weekends. And I said something like, ‘I’m too old to hide the ball. You’re great. I want to see if we can make this work. Here’s when I’m available next.’ And I guess it worked.” — Emhoff
On Leaving His Career As A Lawyer
“Though I had always admired and supported her work, until recently, our professional lives had remained separate worlds. That changed the day Joe Biden called and asked her to join the ticket as his running mate. On that day it quickly became clear that this wasn’t just about my love for my wife, but also about my love for this country. Stepping back from my career as an entertainment lawyer was a decision that we made together — this was about something bigger than either of us.” — Emhoff
On Her Dropping Out Of The Presidential Primary
“She made that decision, and I would have supported whatever she decided. 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.” — Emhoff
On Supporting Her Career
“Our relationship and the way I roll, my whole life has just been to support the people I love unequivocally, and they support me. The whole thing has been based on parity and mutual respect.” — Emhoff
On Watching Her Work
“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. And I’m looking over and she’s looking [back] and she goes, ‘What are you doing, Dougie? You working?’ And I say, ‘Yep! Yes, honey.’” — Emhoff
On Her Stepkids
“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
On Her Relationship With His Ex-Wife
“To know Cole and Ella is to know that their mother, Kerstin, is an incredible mother. Kerstin and I hit it off ourselves and are dear friends. She and I became a duo of cheerleaders in the bleachers at Ella’s swim meets and basketball games, often to Ella’s embarrassment. We sometimes joke that our modern family is almost a little too functional.” — Harris
On How They Manage Stress
“One of the things that really allows us to get through these moments that are obviously very stressful — we’re talking about the future of the free world — it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself and each other. We do a healthy amount of both of that. We don’t take ourselves too seriously in the context of our relationship. You can’t. You just have to flow and know what’s really important.” — Harris
On How They Connect When They’re Busy
“When we do have dinner together — it depends, because we’re going to different states a lot — we meet up at night. Sometimes, it’s very late at night and one of us is scarfing down food that the other has prepared. It has been often the case that one of us is eating at the table while the other is bringing the food and then listening to the day.” — Harris