Schwarzenegger to decide on honour for assassinated gay politician

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The Governor of California has been sent a bill that would make the anniversary of the birth of Harvey Milk a “day of significance” in the state’s educational institutions.

Mr Milk, known during his lifetime as The Mayor of Castro Street, is regarded as a political icon among gay activists for his ability to build the LGBT community into a grassroots political force.

The first openly gay politician in America, he was elected to the city’s Board of Supervisors in 1977.

He was gunned down at City Hall by Dan White, a disgruntled former Supervisor, on November 27th 1978.

White also killed the city’s mayor in his gun rampage.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office has not said if he will sign the bill to make Mr Milk’s birthday, May 22nd, a day of significance on which public schools and educational institutions would be asked 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 from San Francisco said in May when the bill passed the state legislature.

On May 22nd this year a statue of Mr Milk was unveiled at San Francisco City Hall, the first representation of an openly gay person to be permanently placed in a US civic building.

It is a rare honour for someone who never held the position of Mayor and is a permanent reminder of the unique place the city of San Francisco had in forming a new, politically active gay identity in the 1970s.

In his 11 months in office Harvey Milk sponsored a gay rights bill and helped to defeat a proposition that would have seen openly gay and lesbian teachers sacked.

He had foreseen his own untimely death, and made several audio tapes to be played if he was assassinated.

One had recorded upon it his most famous statement, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”

When White only received seven years in jail for his murder, San Francisco’s gay community rioted. More than 160 people were injured.

Sean Penn is playing Harvey Milk in an upcoming biopic, entitled Milk.