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California honours murdered gay politician

Dylan Vox May 20, 2008

Just days after the Supreme Court lifted the ban on same-sex marriage, another LGBT related provision passed the State Assembly in California.

On Monday, it was announced that a bill to recognise slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the country, passed with a 45-23 vote.

After an honourable discharge from the United States Navy, Milk moved to San Francisco, where he opened a camera shop with his partner Scott Smith.

Milk quickly became an active community leader and was widely known as the Mayor of Castro Street.

The Castro district is an area of the city renown for its large gay population.

Milk was elected to the Board of Supervisors for the city in 1977 and was the first openly gay man to be designated to public office in the United States.

He became an outspoken advocate for gay rights and helped pass several anti-discrimination laws during his tenure.

In 1978, Milk and then mayor George Moscone were gunned down by former Supervisor Dan White at City Hall.

White served only five years for the double homicide, arguing that a junk food induced depression caused him to commit the crimes.

If made into law, the bill would make Milk’s birthday, May 22, a day of significance and “all public schools and educational institutions are encouraged to observe (it) and to conduct suitable commemorative exercises.”

“Harvey would be proud to know that his legacy continues to teach us to believe in ourselves and our dreams,” Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who introduced the bill to the Assembly, said in a statement to the press.

If the bill passes the State Senate, “California would become the first state in the nation to designate a day commemorating a leader of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” according to the gay rights group Equality California.

A bronze bust of Milk will be dedicated and installed at San Francisco City Hall on Thursday, the 78th anniversary of his birth.

The sculpture will be the first representation of an openly gay person to be permanently placed in a civic building.

© 2008; All Rights Reserved

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