Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus on
Tuesday named a ship in honor of Harvey Milk.
The ship naming ceremony took place at
Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“[Milk] came out for justice,
equality and freedom. … He offered hope for millions of Americans
who were being ostracized and prosecuted just for who they loved,”
Mabus told the crowd from a podium surrounded by six flags, one being
a rainbow flag.
Milk, who served aboard a submarine
rescue ship during the Korean War, was the first openly gay elected
official of a major U.S. city. He won a seat on the San Francisco
Board of Supervisors in 1977 on a pledge to back gay and lesbian
rights. He was murdered by a disgruntled former supervisor the
Chad Griffin, president of the Human
Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate,
applauded the move.
“Today’s historic ceremony is so
much more than naming a ship after the legendary Harvey Milk. It is
further evidence of the profound progress on LGBTQ equality we
continue to make as a nation,” Griffin said in a statement. “In
his bold and unabashed advocacy, Milk inspired LGBTQ people for
generations. And in her tireless career and service, Paula Neira has
played a major role in lifting the ban on transgender service
members. As we work to achieve our shared vision of equality for all
LGBTQ people, we are grateful to the United States Navy and Secretary
Ray Mabus for their continued leadership in ensuring all sailors have
the dignity and respect they deserve.”