For gays and lesbians Thanksgiving brought more than turkey, pilgrims and pumpkin pies this year. We were also thankful for the arrival of Milk, the Harvey Milk biopic that keeps our fight for civil rights on the front burner of the political process.

(Personally, I'm thankful for its arrival and the hopeful end of such silly headlines as: Drink your Milk, Got Milk? and Milk is good for you.)

Opening on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Milk's assassination , the movie celebrates the life of gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk.

It arrives just in time to cheer on a new generation of gays downtrodden by recent gay rights losses in Arizona, Florida, Arkansas and California on Election Day.

Milk was an awkward man who refused to hide the fact that he was gay. He won a long-fought election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 on his third attempt. But it was a short-lived victory. The next year Dan White (played in the film by Josh Brolin), another supervisor, assassinated Milk along with Mayor George Moscone at San Francisco City Hall because he disagreed with the gay rights initiatives Milk championed. Milk was 48 at the time of his death.

A major portion of the film pits Milk against a religious-backed initiative to expel gay and lesbian teachers from California schools – sound familiar?

“If this thing passes, fight the hell back!” Milk, played by Sean Penn, says in Milk.

The lessons of Harvey Milk seem more relevant today than at any time in the thirty years since his death, as a new gay civil rights call to action is being answered by the next generation of gays and lesbians who reject the notion that checkbook activism was our only recourse. They understand that the political visibility we have purchased remains inaudible without the voice of real people to back it up.

Recently, many countries around the globe have addressed gay and lesbian issues under the radar as we remained focused on Proposition 8 and the presidential election.

In the small African nation of Burundi, lawmakers outlawed being gay, while India is pondering the opposite.

And Sweden is setting the stage to legalize gay marriage, just as officials in Mexico City – where 8.7 million people reside – are moving forward with legislation that allows transgender people to alter their name and sex identity in an effort to blunt discrimination.

Not to say nothing is happening concerning gay marriage in the United States. After the passage of Proposition 8, the protests against it and the start of gay marriage in Connecticut, anti-gay marriage groups are readying their defenses to protect the federal DOMA from repeal.

The Alliance for Marriage Foundation, the group that drafted the Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA) in Congress, unveiled a new website at on Monday. The online resource gives facts and information about the law that forbids any federal agency from recognizing legal gay marriage. The law also allows states to ignore legal gay marriages performed in another state.

“The repeal of DOMA is the legislative Holy Grail for activists who want to impose their radical social agenda upon America through the courts,” said Rev. Sam Rodriguez, Jr., an AFM Advisory Board member and president of the National Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) in a statement announcing the new effort.

Anti-gay marriage groups fear President-elect Barack Obama backed by a left-leaning Congress will follow through on his pledge to repeal the anti-gay measure next year.

And it was our own Gay Entertainment Report that brought me news of the new documentary in production that follows The Gay Moralist author and Wayne State University professor of philosophy Dr. John Corvino as he champions gay marriage.

Don't let the milk spoil – go see MILK! (Sorry, I couldn't help myself! )

The Gay Slant is a weekly feature of On Top Magazine. Walter Weeks is a writer for On Top and can be reached at