Politicians in California have announced they are to introduce a bill to mark the life of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected in the state.

Sean Penn, the Academy Award-winning star of Milk, will join State Senator Mark Leno and State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano at a press conference today to introduce the Harvey Milk Day Bill.

Sponsored by Equality California, the bill seeks to “educate Californians about the former San Francisco City Supervisor, civil rights activist and American hero whose work helped bring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people out of the closet and into civic life.”

The legislation calls on the Governor to proclaim May 22nd as Harvey Milk Day, designating it as a “day of special significance.”

The legislation was originally introduced last year by Senator Leno but the Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, vetoed it on the grounds that Harvey Milk was unknown beyond San Francisco.

Known during his lifetime as “The Mayor of Castro Street,” Harvey Milk is a political icon among gay activists for his ability to build the LGBT community into a grassroots political force.

Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.

In his 11 months in office he sponsored a gay rights bill and helped to defeat a proposition that would have seen openly gay and lesbian teachers sacked.

He was gunned down at City Hall by Dan White, a disgruntled former Supervisor, on November 27th 1978.

Milk was recently honoured with a bust on permanent display in San Francisco City Hall, a rare accolade for someone who never held the position of Mayor.