LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair and California Democratic Party Vice Chair Eric C. Bauman released the following statement on the passing of LGBT leader Jean Harris:
“The LGBT community and the greater Democratic Party family will sorely miss Jean Harris. She was the consummate political insider, yet often found herself excelling in the outsider role. Jean focused on many political causes, but she worked tirelessly on LGBT issues and was an essential part of the strategy that ultimately turned the Coachella Valley blue. Jean never hesitated to call out-the deceivers, the charlatans and the chicken-hearted, and she never acquiesced to our opponents. Her energy and fearlessness will be missed.”
Harris, 66, was a trailblazer in LGBT political advocacy in both California and Oregon. In Oregon, she was the first Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon. As the Executive Director of the California Alliance for Pride and Equality (CAPE), the forerunner of Equality California (EQCA), she transformed it from a grassroots nonprofit to a powerful lobbying and advocacy organization.
As a Democratic activist, Harris served in many leadership positions, including California Democratic Party (CDP) Lesbian/Gay Caucus Chair, CDP Delegate Selection Committee Member, CDP 16th Assembly District Chair, and San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Lesbian/Gay Democratic Club President.
As a political professional, she served as chief of staff to San Francisco Supervisor Harry Britt; special assistant to San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan, Assembly Speakers Herb Wesson and Fabian Nunez; and principal consultant to Senate President pro Tem Don Perata. Harris was instrumental in the “lavender sweep” of San Francisco in the 1990s, during which LGBT candidates Carole Migden, Tom Ammiano, Roberta Achtenberg, and Harry Britt were elected to office.