The Second Gentleman’s first wife Kerstin Emhoff attended the inauguration too

Obviously, I was a fan of now Vice President Kamala Harris for a while. But I mostly paid attention to her politics and what she was doing as the AG of California, then as a senator. Before the presidential campaign really ramped up, I didn’t know much about her personal life. So it’s been amazing to learn about her big, crazy family through the inauguration lens: her beloved sister and beloved niece, the grand-niece babies, and her two adult step-children, Ella and Cole Emhoff. Ella and Cole are the products of Doug Emhoff’s first marriage to Kerstin Emhoff. I was mildly curious about VP Harris’s relationship with Doug’s first wife, and here we go: People Magazine has an article pointing out that Kerstin actually attended the inauguration. Not only that, VP Harris and Kerstin Emhoff are close friends, and Kerstin worked on Kamala’s presidential campaign.

Among the many celebrities, politicians, and extended family members to attend Wednesday’s swearing-in ceremony of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, one face stood out: Kerstin Emhoff, the ex-wife of the Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is close with the couple. The mother of two joined her children, Cole and Ella, to lend her support and attend the inaugural festivities this week, sharing a handful of images on Instagram that show the three, properly-masked, heading to various events including the swearing-in.

“This is real. So excited behind the mask!” she captioned a photo of herself in front of the Capitol steps. Kerstin and Doug were married for 25 years before their divorce. Harris married Emhoff in August 2014, became a stepmom to Cole and Ella, who the vice president spoke highly of throughout the campaign.

In an August interview with PEOPLE shortly after she was announced as Biden’s running mate, Harris spoke of her close-knit relationship with the two. “My children don’t call me stepmom, they call me Momala,” Harris said. “We’re a very modern family. Their mom is a close friend of mine.”

Emhoff, who could be seen seated a few rows behind her children at Wednesday morning’s swearing-in, has been described as a “dear friend” by Harris. “Kerstin and I hit it off ourselves and are dear friends,” Harris wrote in Elle last year. “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 also spoke warmly of Kerstin in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, saying her husband’s ex-wife had been a critical part in growing closer to Cole and Ella. “One of the keys to my relationship with Cole and Ella is their mom,” Harris said. “We are friends. We have a very modern family … The thing about blended families — if everyone approaches it in the way that there’s plenty of love to share, then it works.”

[From People]

That’s very cool and frankly, it’s a relief. Before I knew all of this, there was something nagging in the back of my mind, that the Second Gentleman’s first wife might suddenly pop up and make a big PR mess. It sounds like Doug and Kerstin have it figured out though. For those interested in the timeline: Doug and Kerstin got married in 1992, and they were married for 16 years, which means they got a divorce in 2008. Doug and Kamala met in 2013 when a mutual friend set them up on a blind date. They were married the next year, in a ceremony officiated by Kamala’s sister.



Biden takes the Oath of Office as the 46th President of the US

Biden takes the Oath of Office as the 46th President of the US

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid, Instagram.

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44 Responses to “The Second Gentleman’s first wife Kerstin Emhoff attended the inauguration too”

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  1. Duchess of hazard says:

    A lot of maturity on all sides. Congratulations to them!

    • TQ says:

      + 100! Totally agree. Awesome.

    • Joan Rivers says:

      But the text says they’re married 16 yrs. while the excerpt says 25. Which is it? That kind of discrepancy is distracting.


      They’re a charming family, for sure. He’s been especially adept at handling this, always says the right thing, including on his twitter.

      • Joan Rivers says:

        The Biden granddaughters, and daughter, are also really cool. Same modern, fun vibe.
        Instead of playing “YMCA” and making corny, lame jokes — they’re all interesting and poised.

      • Lucky Charm says:

        I caught that, too. Just a typo, they weren’t married 25 years, they divorced long before Kamala came into the picture.

  2. Case says:

    This is really nice to see that they all get along to support the kids, and that she’s friends with Kamala.

  3. Digital Unicorn says:

    I see where Ella gets her coat game from – I love that whole outfit of Kerstin’s.

    It sounds like everyone has been very mature about the whole situation – which shows it can be done.

    • AnnaKist says:

      Ooooooh, all the coats! It’s Summer here, and now I can’t wait for the cooler weather, and finding a great coat.
      I love this story. The lack of animosity and drama is so refreshing.

    • dlc says:

      Kerstin’s outfit is great. I find this story to be heartwarming!

  4. Wilma says:

    I loved the interview with Cole and Ella (in WaPo or NYtimes, forgot which one) which was very unfiltered and so genuinely fun.

  5. Katherine says:

    She’s also credited on Doug’s White House bio as a co parent. That’s such a fantastic and mature message to send :)

  6. K says:

    Does anyone else want to hang out with this group of awesome humans??? I am so here for these people( and their outerwear choices. )

  7. Watson says:

    Man. I love my partner very much but if we ever divorced I hope we could be this mature and loving to our new spouses. I have never seen this work in real life so I think her family is aspirational.

    • Blairski says:

      It’s so nice to see my type of family reflected here! My mom and stepmom have been friendly since my stepmom met my dad, and have gotten closer over the years. Not in a “chat every day or go on vacations together” sort of way, but very much as fellow family members – my dad and stepmom helped keep an eye on my mom’s mom after the rest of us moved away from the east coast, and my mom flew out to take care of my stepmom after surgery when no one else was available. I wish there were more examples in the media of how families can be family without rancor. Of course, it won’t work for everyone, but I look forward to a time when it’s more “normal”.

      • Watson says:

        Blairski you are very lucky and I’m happy for you that you can see yourself in this family!! Functioning modern families for the win.

      • Louise says:

        THIS. We’re a small brady bunch: my brother from Dad’s first marriage, i from Mom’s. People are sometimes weirded out that my brother’s Mom is part of day to day life for all of us, every celebration. As are her subsequent children and their families. Because we’re all family, and there IS enough love to go around. In fact, there’s more because of it.

    • Agirlandherdog says:

      My sister and her partner have co-parented with his ex-wife for 20 yrs at this point. It’s always been nice to see firsthand the healthy, blended family they’ve created. They even do their annual family photos all together.

      This is not to say this is a goal everyone should strive toward or that people who don’t have this type of relationship are somehow wrong or are failing. Divorce happens for a reason, and sometimes that reason precludes being able to build or maintain a bond this type of bond. Every experience is different.

      • Pamuk says:

        My stepfather and mom were best friends with his ex wife and partner. Holidays were spent together, my mom and the ex wife became close loving friends. When mom was sick, the ex wife was by her side and helped our family recover. When the ex wife was dying of cancer, mom was there by her side, especially supportive of my step-dad who grieved openly when she passed. I’m proud of my mom for how she handled being a step mom and new wife. Love always wins.

    • Jaded says:

      I’m in the opposite situation – Mr. Jaded’s ex-wife loathes me (she ended the marriage). She hates me to the point where she spread all sorts of ugly stories about how we carried on affair during their marriage even though we didn’t get together until 6 months after their divorce. It would be so nice to have a civil, friendly relationship with a mature person instead of dealing with a spiteful brat.

    • Turtledove says:

      Watson, I think that it is “good enough” when the divorcing parents manage to just be civil and decent for the sake of the kids. But boy, when it can be like this? It’s a beautiful thing. I have seen one real life example. My paternal uncle remarried when me and my cousings were pretty young. Bith his ex wife and new wife are/were VERY special people and they became good friends…to the extent that when his secomd wife passed of cancer years later, his first wife read her eulogy. Not everyone is going to quite get “there”, but it would be nie to aspire to it. Of course, it also depends on ALL the adults, if the divorced folks both get remarried, you now have 4 people you are looking to keep harmony with. And the divorce itself matters. My husbands mom was never going to get along like that with her ex’s new wife, because he cheated on her and left her for that woman. She had a very hard time dealing with him, and her kds did suffer some for it. (Thoiugh admittedly, she did get along better with the “mistress” than her ex husband…).

  8. Jane Wilson says:

    And Doug Emhoff seems like a total Mensch!!
    (And a bit of a babe.)

  9. emu says:

    That is wonderful that they are close. Or even cordial! Healthy adult relationships, thank jeebus

  10. Phillyperson says:

    This family is such a delight.

  11. Nina Simone says:

    This is so cool and inspiring.

    Kerstin is also a major boss! She owns a production company and has won many awards including emmys

  12. heygingersnaps says:

    duchess of buttons is probably envious of those coats with all those big chunky buttons.
    Kidding aside, the Harris-Emhoff family is just lovely.

  13. Michael L Kelly says:

    Somewhere Meghan Markle is throwing up her hands and wishing her stepfamily was this mature. Also now that the spouse of the VP is a male I bet there will be a movie coming out soon called “The Second Gentlemen”

  14. TheOriginalMia says:

    This family is unreal and so refreshing.

  15. Savu says:

    I just think that is the coolest. I’m a child of divorce, where my biological mom made life hell for my dad and stepmom (who later adopted me, she’s my “real mom”). I grew up having to navigate all those difficult situations where everybody is at the soccer game, but won’t speak or be near one another. Hopefully this inspires other blended families that this is what life CAN look like.

  16. LittlePenguin says:

    I didn’t know I needed to see this story until I read it. I love that they work together for the kids (and for the VP spot!) .

  17. GuestwithCat says:

    Oh this is so cool. Thanks for covering this. I also had wondered about Kerstin. I’m so happy they’re all happy. We need a lot of happiness and positivity among our leadership right now.

    And I have never before seen so much fabulous winter wear as I did at this inauguration!

  18. FancyPants says:

    How lovely that she got to participate in this with her children so the whole family could share this once-in-a-lifetime experience! Doug is clearly not intimidated by confident women. And I love “Momala,” that’s how I remember how to pronounce her name because my stupid brain always reads it as “Ka-MAH-la.”

    • bananapanda says:

      Think of it like this “comma la”. Her campaign had tee shirts that said ” , la ” on them ;-D

    • K says:

      I think of it like she keeps “calm” (calm-a-la) and carries on, because she displays such poise and confidence in speaking.

  19. Jayna says:

    I loved the interview his ex-wife did a while back regarding her ex and laughing about who is this man? Meaning, he was not that husband when they were married. It was all said with fondness, her examples, but he has definitely evolved and improved as a thoughtful mate compared to a much younger Doug.

  20. Mel says:

    Adults adulting, how refreshing after the last four years!

  21. Katie says:

    I love this. My parents are divorced and both remarried and have always been civil, kind, and loving towards each other and us. We had Christmas together, graduations, random Sunday dinners when I came back to town after moving away. And my whole family (aunts, uncles, grandma) do the same, my Dad and his wife come to Thanksgiving dinners with my Mom, step-dad and my Moms whole family.

    As a kid, I always thought well of course that’s what you do because you love your kids.

    As an adult, I can now see how easy it would be to chose not to do it and how much it takes putting your own feelings of hurt aside.

  22. Amelie says:

    Kerstin Emhoff is also successful in her own right. She has her own production company and has won a bunch of awards, Emmys and such for her work. She even has her own Wikipedia page. Doug Emhoff clearly has a type: career-driven, intelligent women!

  23. harla says:

    I always made it a point to try and befriend my ex’s newest wife (s) because I always believed that it was better for our kids that we all got along. Since I was the first wife at some point each one came to me looking for advice on how to handle him which I thought was rather odd considering I didn’t have a clue hence why we weren’t still together.

  24. Nicole says:

    Finally! Some grown ups!

  25. KC says:

    That’s great. He was not my first preference for POTUS but I really want to like her. Personally I think Peter is just as bad as Paul when it comes to political parties so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more of the same, just more covert and tactful. That being said, I’m so happy the inauguration went by with no coups, riots or lives lost and that it’s the start of a more peaceful 2021. I’m really hoping this maturity and lack of drama in her personal life gives way to the ability to compromise and diplomacy which will be a boon in helping build up and unite the country.