Skip To Content

The story of how Doug Emhoff wooed Kamala Harris

It was a blind date that brought Kamala Harris together with her Jewish husband Doug Emhoff — a set-up arranged by her best friend, Chrisette Hudlin, a public relations consultant.

In her memoir, The Truths We Hold, Harris recounts how secretive she tried to be about her dating life, as attorney-general of California. “As a single, professional woman in my forties, and very much in the public eye, dating wasn’t easy,” she wrote. “I knew that if I brought a man with me to an event, people would immediately start to speculate about our relationship. I also knew that single women in politics are viewed differently than single men. We don’t get the same latitude when it comes to our social lives.”

Emhoff was a divorced father of two and an entertainment lawyer, living in Los Angeles, at the time. Harris described Emhoff’s courtship as endearingly awkward and eager. It started with a text, after Hudlin gave Harris’ number to Emhoff: “Hey! It’s Doug. Just saying hi! I’m at the Lakers game.”

Harris wrote back with a hello, and plans to talk the following day. “Then I punctuated it with my own bit of awkwardness— ‘Go Lakers!’— even though I’m really a Warriors fan.”

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

Emhoff proposed marriage to Harris in March 2014, right after she returned from a work trip to Mexico (focusing on transnational crime), and hours before the couple was supposed to fly out to Italy for a romantic getaway. As she described it in her memoir, she was packing her suitcase frantically for the trip, and Emhoff arrived with a ring — he had planned to propose in front of the Ponte Vecchio, in Florence.

The couple married in an August 2014 private ceremony that incorporated both their “respective Indian and Jewish heritage,” with Harris placing a flower garland around Emhoff’s neck and Emhoff stomping on a glass. Harris’ sister Maya Harris officiated, and her niece Meena read from Maya Angelou.

In the memoir, Harris describes their “modern family” as “almost a little too functional,” and makes a concerted effort to appear as an accessible, family-oriented 21st-century model American home: The hard-working Americans eating in seafood huts, who turn up Roy Ayers in the car, who plop on the couch with a bag of Doritos after a long day, and who sit down to a weekly Sunday family dinner of homemade Indian biryani and spaghetti bolognese.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.