California’s Harvey Milk Day first ever state recognition of LGBT person in U.S. history

Harvey Milk

LGBTQ Nation

Saturday marks Harvey Milk Day in California, the first official State Day of Recognition for an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person in our nation’s history.

Last year, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the Harvey Milk Day bill, sponsored by Equality California and authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).

Milk in the 1978 Gay Freedom Parade in San Francisco.

In honor of the day, Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors issued the following statement:

I am truly thrilled that after several years of hard work, we have succeeded in making Harvey Milk’s birthday an official State Day of Recognition, honoring his incredible legacy and invaluable contributions to our state and to our nation. We are going to celebrate the way Harvey would, by going door-to-door, sharing our stories across the state in neighborhoods that don’t yet support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

We will redouble our efforts to elect only those candidates who will be champions for complete equality, just as Harvey was. We will continue standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies fighting for social justice across the spectrum, just as Harvey taught us to.

As we celebrate his life on this historic day, we will draw strength and inspiration from Harvey’s courage in our ongoing struggle to achieve our collective dream of full equality.”

In honor of Harvey Milk Day, Equality California is hosting a day of action on Saturday, May 22, with more than 1,000 Californians expected at rallies across the state followed by door-to-door canvassing to build support for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

Milk was one of the first openly gay politicians to be elected to public office when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He and Mayor George Moscone were shot and killed by former Supervisor Dan White at City Hall on Nov. 27, 1978.

While Milk served only 11 months in office, he was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city.

Despite his short career in politics, Milk became an icon in San Francisco and a martyr for gay rights, and has been referred to as “the most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the United States”.

Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Obama.

Saturday would have been Milk’s 80th birthday.

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