Majority of San Francisco residents oppose renaming airport after Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk

SAN FRANCISCO — The results of a poll commissioned by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce last month and published Friday showed that a majority of the city’s residents oppose renaming San Francisco International Airport after slain gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk.

The poll found that only 31 percent of likely voters supported the change, while 61 percent were opposed.

Harvey Milk

The poll found that opposition came from all demographics of the city, including those who reside in Milk’s former district in the Castro, where support barely cracked 50 percent. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, only 45 percent of respondents who identified as LGBT supported the idea.

The Chronicle reported that some have suggested that Supervisor David Campos’ airport renaming effort is in part a move to increase his profile and fundraising in advance of a run for state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s seat. But poll respondents in that Assembly district also broadly oppose the plan, with 58 percent against compared with 36 percent in favor.

Campos estimated that renaming the airport would cost between $50,000 and $250,000.

“[Milk] is the most important figure in the history of the LGBT community, and he played such a critical role in modern San Francisco politics,” said Supervisor Scott Weiner, who represents Milk’s former district, and co-sponsors Campos’s bill.

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“San Francisco has always been at the forefront of the fight for LGBT equality, and so people come here from around the country and around the world because of that, and for 40 million people a year to land at Harvey Milk International Airport sends an incredible message to the world,” Weiner told the Chronicle.

Jim Lazarus, the chamber’s senior vice president for public policy, said opposition is “fairly broad-based” and that “there should be a better way to honor the memory of Harvey Milk.”

Anne Kronenberg, Milk’s former political aide noted that media attention about the idea has mostly been negative and public opinion won’t truly be formed until the issue is vetted at the board.

Besides, she said, the legislation would only put the issue before voters.

The poll was conducted among 500 San Francisco voter in February by David Binder Research for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Margin of error is +/- 4.4%.

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.

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