Slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in California, will be among the newest inductees to the California Hall of Fame.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver unveiled the list of 2009 inductees earlier this week, saying the 13 men and women “embody California’s innovative spirit and have made their mark on history.”
Last year, Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would designate a day each year to honor Milk.
A similar introduced bill by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, has passed the Senate and is expected to be taken up in the Assembly in the next few weeks. It would designate Milk’s birthday, May 22, as a “day of special significance,” but not an official holiday.
“It should be kept in mind that he literally gave his life so I and others can serve in public office and that every generation of LGBT Californians can pursue their every hope, dream and aspiration,” said Leno.
Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 and was one of the first openly gay Americans elected to public office. He and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated at City Hall on November 27, 1978, by former Supervisor Dan White.
Earlier this month, Milk was among 16 recipients awarded the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama. The award is the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Other inductees in the California Hall of Fame are “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, football commentator John Madden, entertainer Carol Burnett, former Intel chief executive Andrew Grove, former Gov. Hiram Johnson, decathlete and philanthropist Rafer Johnson, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, philanthropist and peace activist Joan Kroc, artist Fritz Scholder, author Danielle Steel, bodybuilder and Schwarzenegger mentor Joe Weider and Air Force pilot Chuck Yeager.
The nominees will be inducted in a December 1 ceremony at the California Museum in Sacramento. Shriver started the program to honor artists, sports figures and others who’ve helped shape the state.