With the Trump administration (finally) coming to an end, it's time to set our sights on getting to know the next group of people who will be free to roam the White House as they please, beginning at exactly 12 p.m. ET on January 20. We already know quite a bit about the incoming POTUS and VPOTUS, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. But while we got to know the entire Biden brood during his time as Barack Obama's vice president—including Dr. Jill Biden, who will become the first First Lady to maintain a full-time day job during her partner's time in office—you may not be quite as familiar with Harris' tight-knit family. Let's start, then, with a crash course on her loving husband Douglas "Doug" Emhoff, aka the nation's first-ever Second Gentleman.
Emhoff and Harris were set up on a blind date.
Blind dates get a bad reputation, but when they work, they really work—just ask Emhoff! He was first introduced to his wife in 2013 by way of a blind date set up by the then-strangers' mutual friend, a PR consultant named Chrisette Hudlin.
"He said something to the effect of 'She's really hot,'" Hudlin told Marie Claire of what Emhoff thought about Harris before they even started dating. "He was complimenting her, and at the same time he was admiring her, and I liked that."
Meanwhile, Harris was busy making her own assumptions about Emhoff before their first meeting: In a joint interview that aired on CBS Sunday Morning on Jan. 17, Harris revealed to her husband that she'd Googled him before the date. "[Hudlin] said, 'Just trust me. Just trust me.' You know, she wanted me to just kind of go into it," Harris remembered. "She said, 'Don't Google him.' I did!"
Harris went on to share that it was Emhoff who made the first move after being given Harris' phone number by Hudlin. "I left this ridiculous voicemail, which she has saved and plays back to me on our anniversary every year," he said on Sunday Morning. According to Harris, "It was just, it was adorable. And it was just, I mean, the thing about Doug is that he is exactly who he is. He's just fully authentic and clear about the things he cares about—and it's family, it's his work."
After almost a year of dating, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that they had gotten engaged on March 27, 2014. Emhoff recalled the proposal to Now This Is Politics, recalling that Harris was initially more focused on figuring out what to order for dinner. "I just said, 'I want to spend the rest of my life with you.' She goes, 'Oh, ok, that's good. Do you want chicken or fish?'" Emhoff said. "And I got down on one knee. She looked at me and just started bawling."
The two later got hitched in August of that year in a romantic Santa Barbara courthouse ceremony presided over by Harris' younger sister Maya, complete with the musical stylings of a cellist in the courtroom. They wrote their own vows and broke a glass to recognize Emhoff's Jewish faith. Harris' niece read the poem "Touched by an Angel" by Maya Angelou to commemorate the ceremony.
Emhoff is the proud father of two children.
Years before meeting Harris, Emhoff was married to a woman named Kerstin, and they had two children together: Cole (named after jazz saxophonist John Coltrane) and Ella (as in Ella Fitzgerald, of course). When Emhoff and Harris hit it off, the then-attorney general was initially very wary of the idea of meeting her new beau's kids because she knew just how important they were to him.
"As a child of divorce, I knew how hard it could be when your parents start to date other people," she told ELLE in May 2020. "And I was determined not to insert myself in their lives until Doug and I had established we were in this for the long haul. Children need consistency; I didn't want to insert myself into their lives as a temporary fixture because I didn't want to disappoint them. There's nothing worse than disappointing a child."
Her fears of possibly disappointing Emhoff's kids proved unfounded, as Harris is now so close to Cole and Ella that they adorably refer to her as "Momala." As for how they see their dad and stepmom's relationship, Cole told the New York Times in January, "Doug and Kamala together are, like, almost vomit-inducingly cute and coupley. I'm like, 'When is this going to wear off?'" Ella added, "It's so insane. It's like the honeymoon phase forever. Like, the rest of the world gets to see it on social media, but we live that."
On top of all this, even Emhoff's ex-wife was won over by Harris: Kerstin will join the Harris-Emhoff squad at the inauguration ceremony, and even offered up her creative services to Harris' campaign. "They were like, 'The ex-wife wants to do what?'" she jokingly recalled to Marie Claire.
Emhoff was over the moon about Harris' win.
Time and again, Emhoff has proven himself to be his wife's number one fan. Case in point: When the election results were finally confirmed on Nov. 7, he shared a photo of him and Harris celebrating her historic win with a huge bear hug and the short but sweet caption, "So proud of you." (He's also clearly an expert emoji user!)
As he described to Marie Claire, Emhoff's whole M.O. is unconditional support for the people he loves. "Our relationship and the way I roll, my whole life has just been to support the people I love unequivocally, and they support me," he said. "The whole thing has been based on parity and mutual respect."
That means, of course, that he's supported Harris every step of the way throughout her political career, even though he was never especially interested in politics before marrying her. "I'm not overly political," he told MC, before adding, "I'm overly her husband."
His time as Second Gentleman will be devoted to fairness and equality.
In a perfect reflection of Biden and Harris' own agenda for their time as the leaders of the United States, Emhoff has also expressed his desire to spend his term as Second Gentleman doing whatever he can to encourage justice and equity across the nation. He told MC last fall that he'll be approaching his new gig "like I approach anything," with plans to "talk about fairness and talk about justice and talk about equality. Just try to lead by example."
As Harris put it at the time, "If Joe and I are elected, [Doug] would be a champion for issues of justice, opportunity, and equality and a partner in all our work for the American people."
He's an entertainment lawyer.
Even as a child growing up in Brooklyn and then Los Angeles for high school, Emhoff knew that he wanted to be a lawyer—but it wasn't until the late nineties that he would venture into the world of entertainment law. He secured a job with boutique firm Belin Rawlings & Badal before opening his own Beverly Hills firm.
Today, Emhoff works as a litigator and partner at DLA Piper Law Firm. Though he's said that law makes him happy and keeps him busy, his successful career as a lawyer is just another element of Emhoff's full life. "With all this other stuff that's happening in my life right now, it's great to have [my practice], because it's something that I love and I'm good at," Emhoff said to The Hollywood Reporter.
According to the firm's site, his accomplishments range from "representing the rights holders of a famous animated character in copyright and trademark disputes," to defending a "prominent former NFL and Olympic athlete in a civil action brought by the SEC."
He's on a leave of absence from his firm to support Harris.
In August, he announced he was taking a leave of absence from DLA Piper Law Firm to focus on getting Harris elected. It sounds like a lot, but Emhoff is up for the challenge. He told Marie Claire in October: "Imagine working from home with Kamala Harris, during a pandemic and all the other issues going on." He continued, "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.'"
He's always had her back. When Harris announced she was dropping out of the 2020 presidential race in December of last year, he was there. He recalled the headline-making decision to Marie Claire, saying, "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 has a real connection with the other members of the "Spouses of Presidential Candidates Club."
Politics can get nasty, complete with mudslinging and rumors in an attempt to tear down the competition. Personally, Emhoff prefers to keep things kosher on his end and is often seen hanging out with the spouses of Harris' once-competition; he chatted family and politics with Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Mayor Pete, and took debate week selfies with Elizabeth Warren and her husband Bruce Mann. He also described the Democratic primary debates as a "bonding experience" to Marie Claire, noting that while all the presidential hopefuls were sparring nonstop under piercing stage lights, he and the rest of the candidates' spouses were "all just chilling in the back, and we're joking around."
He's also made a very positive impression on his East Wing counterpart, with Dr. Jill Biden telling MC in a statement, "Not a lot of people know what it's like to be on the other side of this as a candidate's spouse. It's not a role you seek out—but it's an incredible honor and a powerful platform. I promised myself I wouldn't waste it, and I know Doug won't either. I can't wait to see the great things he does as our first Second Gentleman."
Emhoff is something of a celebrity himself.
Many people's first introduction to Emhoff came in 2019, when Harris threw her hat into the presidential campaigning ring. In June of that year, Harris attended MoveOn's Big Ideas Forum in San Francisco. During her conversation with moderator Karine Jean-Pierre, a protestor from animal rights organization Direct Action Everywhere jumped onstage and grabbed the mic from Harris, startling the senator and the audience. Fortunately, Emhoff and a few others sprang into action quickly and escorted the protestor offstage before he could do further damage.
Later that day, Emhoff tweeted: "Thx for all the kind notes. We are good. I love @KamalaHarris and would do anything for her."
Emhoff's valiant actions to protect his wife drew praise and, for lack of a better word, stanning all across the internet, with fans of Emhoff even calling themselves part of the "Doug Hive." So, yeah—he's kind of a big deal. He even has his own hashtag where supporters across social media regularly share their favorite #DougHive moments.