Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver have chosen gay icon Harvey Milk as one of 13 inductees into the state’s Hall of Fame.
Harvey Milk became the first openly gay elected official from a major city in the United States when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.
He was shot and killed in 1978 by Dan White, a former city supervisor.
Harvey Milk is revered nationally and globally as a pioneer of the LGBT civil rights movement.
Milk, a film of his life, won two Oscars, including Best Actor for Sean Penn, earlier this year, bringing his legacy to a worldwide audience.
Among the other 2009 inductees are: entertainer Carol Burnett, former Governor and US senator Hiram Johnson, film-maker George Lucas, football commentator John Madden, author Danielle Steel and Air Force test pilot General Chuck Yeager.
Maria Shriver founded the Hall of Fame at the California Museum in 2006.
Previous inductees include Jane Fonda, Theodor Geisel (“Dr. Seuss”), Quincy Jones and Jack Nicholson.
“Now more than ever, I see how the perseverance and passion of one person can have a lasting impact in the lives of people, not only in their community but across the world,” Ms Shriver said of the 2009 inductees.
“When talent and a relentless drive are matched, the efforts of a single individual can create a legacy of change, hope and empowerment.
“Every individual inducted into the California Hall of Fame symbolise the biggest hearts, the greatest drive and the deepest inspiration.
“It’s an honour to induct these extraordinary individuals who have each made their own unique mark in history.”
The California Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on December 1st at The California Museum in Sacramento, the state capital.
The ceremony will be followed by a reception and unveiling of the new exhibit installation, featuring artifacts and mementos personally loaned by the inductees, their families and organisations, including many items that have never been exhibited before.
All living inductees and family of posthumous inductees are scheduled to participate in the presentation of the Spirit of California medals by the Governor and First Lady.
State Senator Mark Leno, who represents San Francisco, welcomed Harvey Milk’s induction.
The first openly gay man to sit in the Senate, he is the author of a bill that creates Harvey Milk Day in California.
It is waiting to be debated by the state Assembly.
“Today’s announcement by First Lady Maria Shriver recognises the important leadership role Harvey Milk played in our state and nation and further illustrates the historic and international nature of his legacy,” he said.
“I appreciate the First Lady’s support and admiration for Harvey’s work to further equal civil rights for all people.
“He gave his life for what he believed in, and in doing so gave hope to generations of LGBT Californians who continue to struggle for full equality.
“This honour, as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to Harvey by President Obama, should only underscore to the Governor the need for Harvey Milk Day in California, and I hope he will return our bill, SB 572, with his signature when it reaches his desk in the next few weeks.”
Last year Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have made Mr Milk’s birthday a day of “special significance” in California public schools.