All eyes are on California Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger as a proposed Harvey Milk Day bill heads
towards his desk.
State Senator Mark Leno's bill would
set aside Milk's May 22 birthday to honor the gay rights leader.
Milk became the first openly gay
elected official from a major U.S. city when he was elected to the
San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He won on a platform of
civil rights but his tenure was cut short when he was gunned down by
a disgruntled former supervisor, Dan White, the following year.
“Harvey Milk was a champion for
seniors, for working people and for those who didn't have a voice,
and his courageous work set the stage for many of the key civil
rights advances we enjoy today,” Geoff Kors, executive director of
Equality California (EQCA) said in a statement.
Lawmakers approved the bill for a
second time Thursday, after Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill last
year, saying Milk's accomplishments should be celebrated at the local
But Milk's profile has soared during
the intervening months. President Obama honored Milk with a Medal of
Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award; the California Museum,
which was conceived by Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver, is about
to induct him into its California Hall of Fame; and a movie about his
life, Milk, drew national attention to the tumultuous early
years of the gay rights movement.
Conservatives are dead set against the
idea of honoring a gay politician. Randy Thomasson, president of
SaveCalifornia.com, is heading the fight against a Harvey Milk Day.
The group is behind a campaign of phone calls, faxes and emails that
urge the governor to veto the bill.
“So, under 'Harvey Milk Gay Day,'
elementary and secondary schoolchildren could be taught adult-child
homosexual 'sex' is OK, having multiple sexual relationships at the
same time is OK, and telling a very public lie is OK if it 'gets you
ahead,'” the group says on its website.
Senator Leno says Milk's heightened
stature will win the governor over. But the last we heard from the
governor's spokesman on the issue was that he had not changed his