A bill that would declare May 22nd
Harvey Milk Day in California and encourage public schools to
commemorate and educate about the history of California's first
openly gay politician has won a key state Senate committee vote.
Members of the Governmental
Organization Committee approved the bill with a 9 to 4 vote and sent
it along to its next hearing in the Senate Education Committee.
The bill is sponsored by Equality
California and was introduced last month by openly gay Senator Mark
Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco.
Openly gay activist Milk won a hard-fought election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in
1977. But it was a short-lived victory. The next year Dan White,
another supervisor, assassinated Milk along with Mayor George Moscone
at San Francisco City Hall.
Milk was also a prominent gay activist,
who fought against anti-gay initiatives and dubbed himself the “Mayor
of Castro Street.”
“Harvey Milk was a true American
hero,” said Senator Leno. “He gave hope to an entire generation
of gay and lesbian people whose basic humanity and freedom had been
denied and dishonored, and he literally gave his life so that I and
other LGBT elected officials could serve in public office.”
A similar bill passed the General
Assembly last September but Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
vetoed the bill on the last day possible to kill the legislation. In
his veto message, the governor explained his reasons.
“I respect the author's intent to
designate May 22nd as 'Harvey Milk Day' and a day of
special significance for California public schools and educational
institutions to honor Harvey Milk as an important community leader
and public official in the city and county of San Francisco.
However, I believe his contributions should continue to be recognized
at the local level by those who were most impacted by his
Conservative groups had condemned the
legislative effort to give Milk his own day.
“It's crazy,” Karen England,
executive director of Capitol Resource Institute, told News10,
the Sacramento ABC affiliate. “It's a day that celebrates the
history of a gay individual for being gay. That's his claim to
Equality California re-introduced the
legislation this year due in part to the enormous success of Director
Gus Van Sant's dramatic Harvey Milk biopic Milk. The film
contextualized the gay rights achievements of Milk and the struggles