Gay activist Harvey Milk is among the
13 new inductees to the California Hall of Fame, Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver announced Tuesday.
According to the California Museum's
website, the California Hall of Fame was created to “honor
legendary people who embody California's innovative spirit and have
made their mark on history.”
Shriver founded the Sacramento-based
museum in 2006.
“Harvey Milk is truly deserving of
this honor – his
tremendous legacy is still felt today worldwide,” Geoff Kors,
executive director of Equality California (EQCA), said in a
Milk is the first openly gay elected
official from a major U.S. City. He was elected to the San Francisco
Board of Supervisors in 1977 on a pledge to back gay and lesbian
rights. Milk was killed by Dan White, a former supervisor,
the following year.
Earlier this month President Obama
awarded Milk the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House
ceremony. Obama also recognized tennis great Billy Jean King, who
publicly announced she was a lesbian
in 1981, becoming the first openly lesbian major sport figure
in America. King was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in
“Milk encouraged lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens to live their lives openly
and believed coming out was the only way they could change society
and achieve social equality,” the White House said in announcing
this year's sixteen recipients.
Kors has used both honors to urge
Schwarzenegger to sign State
Senator Mark Leno's proposed bill that would set aside May 22
to honor the gay rights leader. State senators have already approved
the plan and the Assembly is expected to follow. But last year the
governor vetoed a similar measure, calling Milk a community leader
whose contributions “should continue to be recognized at the local
level by those who were most impacted by his contributions.”
“We urge Governor Schwarzenegger to
take the next step in recognizing Harvey Milk's courageous work
championing equal protections for all, just as President Obama has,
and to sign the Harvey Milk bill into law as a tribute to his
invaluable contributions to our state and nation,” Kors said.
Critics of the bill say Milk is
undeserving of his own day. “It's a day that celebrates the
history of a gay individual for being gay,” Karen England,
executive director of Capitol Resource Institute, told News 10,
the Sacramento ABC affiliate, last year.
“It's crazy,” she added.
Also being inducted on December 1 at
the California Museum are entertainer Carol Burnett, former Intel
chief executive Andy Grove, former Governor Hiram Johnson, decathlete
Rafer Johnson, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, peace activist Joan
Kroc, artist Fritz Scholder, author Danielle Steel, bodybuilder Joe
Weider and Air Force pilot Chuck Yeager.