Today is Harvey Milk Day

Today is “Harvey Milk Day,” a day of honor for the slain gay rights activist, which is officially recognized by the State of California and celebrated worldwide.

Milk was one of the first openly gay politicians to be elected to public office when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He and Mayor George Moscone were shot and killed by former Supervisor Dan White at City Hall on Nov. 27, 1978.

While Milk served only 11 months in office, he was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city.

The ordinance extended employment protections to gays and lesbians in San Francisco, and became a model for anti-discrimination legislation throughout California and the nation.

In 1978, Milk campaigned across the state of California against Proposition 6, also known as the Briggs Initiative.

Had it passed, Proposition 6 would have banned gays and lesbians, and possibly anyone who supported gay rights, from working in California’s public schools. The proposition was defeated in the November 1978 election in part because Milk successfully appealed to Californians’ basic sense of fairness.

Despite his short career in politics, Milk became an icon in San Francisco and a martyr for gay rights, and has been referred to as “the
most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the United States.” Legislation designating Milk’s birthday, May 22, as a day of “special significance” in California, was passed in the state legislature in 2009 and signed into law by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In 2009, Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Later that year, Milk was inducted into the California Hall of Fame.

Milk, born on this day in 1930, would have been 82.
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San Diego may have first Harvey Milk Street

Via press release: Today, the San Diego City Planning Commission approved a proposal to rename a street after LGBT civil rights leader Harvey Milk. The proposal will now be sent to the full city council for approval. If approved, San Diego will become the first city in the nation to have a street named for the LGBT rights pioneer.

The proposal is particularly significant as Harvey Milk was stationed in San Diego while he served in the US Navy as a diving instructor.

If successful, Blaine Avenue, the street leading up to The San Diego LGBT Community Center will be renamed Harvey Milk Street in time for the anniversary of his birthday; May 22.

To make a donation supporting the Harvey Milk Street renaming project go to sdpride.org/harveymilk