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Harris' chief of staff Karine Jean-Pierre on how a Biden win could deliver LGBTQ gains

Jean-Pierre, the first Black person and first out lesbian to serve as a vice presidential chief of staff, says she’s “looking forward” to the Harris-Mike Pence debate in October.
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Karine Jean-Pierre on Jan. 17, 2020, in New York.Gary Gershoff / Getty Images file

Karine Jean-Pierre, senior adviser to the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris campaign, has a clear picture in her mind of the kind of impact the two could have on LGTBQ equality if they were to win the election.

“The sun was setting and the lights got much more prominent,” Jean-Pierre said, thinking back to late June 2015, when she watched the White House lit in rainbow colors to mark the historic Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. “People had signs and people were crying, and there was just so much joy.”

“I remember thinking how proud I was of this administration, that I had worked for that,” Jean-Pierre, an Obama campaign and former White House staffer, said. “It really brought together, in that one moment, how important LGBTQ rights were and how much that administration fought for our rights.”

Come November, she hopes a win for the Biden-Harris campaign will lay the groundwork for similar moments for LGBTQ people like herself.

Jean-Pierre joined the Biden campaign in May and began serving as Harris' chief of staff last week.

A seasoned political adviser who worked her way from campaign staffer to the White House, she is the first Black person and first out lesbian to serve in this role.

She said she “couldn’t be prouder” to be working for the Biden-Harris campaign.

An alumna of the campaigns of John Edwards, Martin O’Malley and Barack Obama, Jean-Pierre is also an author and a lecturer at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

She said that, if elected, Biden and Harris would “continue the work that Joe Biden and Obama did” by supporting LGBTQ rights and “continuing to put forth policy that protects the community.”

Jean-Pierre said the contrast between the Trump administration and the Biden-Harris campaign on LGBTQ issues will be on display during the Oct. 7 vice presidential debate. Harris, a former prosecutor, has made a name for herself as a talented cross-examiner since becoming a U.S. senator in 2017.

“She will be ready,” she said. “If I were Mike Pence, I’d be worried!”

Jean-Pierre said the excitement surrounding Harris joining the Biden campaign has been particularly meaningful for her as a mother.

"What's amazing about it, being a Black woman myself with a daughter, now she’s able to look at the TV and say, ‘Oh, wow, when we win in November, the vice president is someone who looks like me, is someone who I can aspire to be one day, to help run the country one day,’” she said.

“Now we have this ticket that’s diverse, that meets the moment, that’s a winning ticket, and that's also making history. You can feel the energy.”

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