Spouses of the President and Vice President Make History


Since the start of the Biden administration, the U.S. has seen revolutionary changes in the demographic of our government. Some of the most notable include First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. Not only are they both very accomplished, but they also bring some unique aspects to the White House that have never been seen before.

What sets Jill Biden apart from past First Ladies is that she is the first to maintain a full-time job during her spouse’s presidency, which for her is being a writing professor at the Northern Virginia Community College. This is also something that she did during her husband’s time as the Vice President, though she has taught at many other schools, starting as a high school English teacher at St. Mark’s High School in Wilmington in 1976. Over the course of her husband’s time as Vice President, she also advocated for community colleges on many occasions, hosting a White House Summit and becoming the College Promise National Advisory Board’s honorary chair.

Although this is a large part of her agenda, helping the American school system is not the only topic Jill Biden is passionate about. Her familial ties to the military include a father that was a Navy Signalman, and a son (Major Beau Biden) who was a soldier in the Delaware Army National Guard. Working on behalf of military families is something that can be expected of her as First Lady, as this is something that she has done in the past. She has worked with First Lady Michelle Obama on initiatives to help service members and their families, as well as visited various military locations in her time at the White House.

Vice President Kamala Harris’s spouse, Douglas Emhoff, is also making history as the first Second Gentleman of the United States. Taking a job that has traditionally been done by a female, Emhoff will be breaking past the boundaries of gender roles that have been for so long ingrained in our society. However, the process of adapting this role for a male is one that will not be easy and will likely require lots of assistance.

Emhoff has made a statement on this matter, saying, “It’s on their shoulders I stand. And it’s their legacy of progress I will try to build on as Second Gentleman. And fortunately, in this work, I could not have a better friend and partner than Dr. Jill Biden, whose example and advice has been invaluable in navigating every step of this journey.”

Emhoff is also the first Jewish spouse in the White House. Raised by a Jewish family in New Jersey, people hope that he can bring a new perspective to Washington, since past occupants of the White House have all identified as Christian. The addition of Emhoff in the White House not only contributes to the increase in diversity within American politics, but can also hopefully be effective in combating America’s ongoing issue with religious acceptance.

“I think that it is very exciting to finally see some representation in the White House, and hopefully this will help in the fight against anti-Semitism,” said Daniella Levitis ’22, a Jewish student body member.

Previous to being the Second Gentleman, Douglas Emhoff was an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles. Although he has not made many statements on what his plans are for this position, he has indicated his hopes to use his abilities as a lawyer to fight for improved access to legal services for citizens. He will also be teaching a course on entertainment law at Georgetown University, which he said has been a long-time dream of his.

With both the First Lady and Second Gentleman being vastly different from their predecessors, Americans can expected to see some major changes in how this role is both conducted and utilized. The Biden administration is arguably the least traditional that the United States has seen, and this is very clearly reflected in those who now reside in the White House.


Philadelphia Inquirer



White House