The influential campaigner was found dead at her Palm Springs
home by her partner, Denise Penn.
Despite suffering from ill health, an autopsy has been ordered
to formally determine the exact cause of death.
The Orange County native was considered a political pioneer
after helping gay candidates get elected in California - namely,
two lesbians to the city's Board of Supervisors and a gay man to
the school board in 1990.
She also served as chief of staff to Supervisor Harry Britt, who
succeeded Harvey Milk after his 1978 assassination, Advocate.com
"She could be a pain," California Democratic Party chair John
Burton told the LA Times.
"She'd push and sometimes people got upset with her, but she
cared enough to not be nice in order to achieve the community's
In addition to Penn, Harris is survived by her mother, a
brother, a sister, four children and a granddaughter.