San Francisco plans to rename airport after gay rights hero Harvey Milk

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

David Campos of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has announced plans for a charter amendment to rename the city’s largest airport in honour of the late gay rights activist Harvey Milk.

The amendment to rename San Francisco International Airport to Harvey Milk-San Francisco International Airport requires the support of five further members of the Board in order to be put to a public ballot in November.

Stuart Milk, co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation and nephew to Harvey Milk, said that if the amendment succeeds the airport would become the first in the world to be named after an openly gay person.

Mr Milk stated that the airport would be an important symbol to the countries it serves, particularly the 68 which criminalise homosexuality.

“For young gay people in an illegal place looking up at a monitor and being able to point to this international airport named after an LGBT advocate, it gives them the green light to authenticity,” Mr Milk said. “It’s a major representation that (they) are being celebrated somewhere in the world in a high-level way.”

Mr Campos said of his plans for the amendment, “The idea that millions of people can learn about Harvey Milk and what he represented is very moving”.

“That no airport in this country has been named for an openly LGBT person is something I hope would be remedied, and what a better place than San Francisco for something like that to happen, and what better person than Harvey Milk.”

Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, winning a post on the Board of Supervisors as a result of changes in the social makeup of San Francisco after three unsuccessful attempts to gain office.

Having finally been elected in 1977, Milk only held his position for 11 months before being assassinated by Dan White, a former colleague who had lost his position in city administration.

Milk has been described as a martyr for gay rights and a visionary. A 2008 biographical film of his life received two academy awards.

In December last year, a middle school teacher in Mexico was fired after screening the film to her class.

During 2009, the former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger established 22 May as Harvey Milk Day.

In 2012, a street in San Diego was named Harvey Milk Street to celebrate his 82nd birthday.