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Harry Britt, the openly gay former minister who succeeded the pioneering Harvey Milk, has tragically died

Lily Wakefield June 25, 2020
Harry Britt

Harry Britt passed away on Wednesday, June 24. (Harry Britt/ Facebook)

Harry Britt, the openly gay LGBT+ rights activist and former minister who replaced Harvey Milk as San Francisco supervisor, has died.

Britt was appointed to serve on the board of supervisors in 1979 after Milk’s assassination. 

Milk, 48, was the first openly LGBT+ person to hold public office in California, and one of the first openly gay elected officials the US.

A queer rights pioneer, the San Fransisco supervisor was murdered in 1978 by his political opponent and former supervisor Dan White around 10 months after being elected.

Britt worked with Milk on his campaigns, and after his assassination succeeded him as San Francisco supervisor, a role he served in for 14 years.

He authored the first comprehensive domestic partners legislation in the US in 1982, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and continued to fight for more than 10 years before it was finally approved in his state.

Senator Dianne Feinstein was the San Francisco mayor who appointed Britt to the board of supervisors, and she said: “Harry was progressive before the word became vogue.

“He was a powerful advocate for the gay community who never took no for an answer.

“Strong, passionate advocates like Harry have done so much for San Francisco and the country, and I’m glad to have known him.”

Harry Britt, 1983. (Geoffrey Alfred Bagnall/Fairfax Media via Getty)

San Francisco state senator Scott Wiener, who also previously served on the board of supervisors, added: “Harry Britt was a pioneer in the LGBT+ community’s entry into electoral politics.

“He deeply understood that while our allies are essential, we must have our own seat at the table.

“Harry helped create political space for people like me to serve in elected office.

“Harry’s death is a tragedy. He will be missed.”

Britt suffered many medical problems in his later years related to his diabetes and was admitted to Laguna Honda Hospital in September 2018.

He passed away there on Wednesday, June 24.

Tim Wolfred, Britt’s former city hall aide and close friend, the San Francisco Chronicle that plans for a memorial will have to be delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “There will be a memorial sometime in the future. Harry was just too important a part of the city.”

 

More: California, Dan White, Harry Britt, Harvey Milk, San Francisco

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