Schwarzenegger snubs Harvey Milk

Pub date October 1, 2008
SectionPolitics Blog

by Amanda Witherell

hm.jpg Today Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have designated May 22 as Harvey Milk day. The legislation, authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno, would have required the governor to annually recognize the day and would have encouraged “all public schools and educational institutions to observe this day and to conduct exercises remembering and recognizing the life of Harvey Milk, his accomplishments, and the contributions he made to this state.”

According to the legislative analysis, the bill had no fiscal cost.

In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said, “I believe his contributions should continue to be recognized at the local level by those who were most impacted by his contributions.”

Yeah, but we already get it — the whole point is to educate more people about his impact, and the guy’s about to go silver screen. If anyone out there doesn’t know who Harvey Milk is now, they will when they see Sean Penn playing him in “Milk,” the Gus Van Sant film that hits national screens in December — which makes it seem entirely appropriate that California might go on the record officially recognizing the great man.

In his legislative comments on the bill, Leno said, “Perhaps more than any other modern figure, Harvey Milk’s life and political career embody the rise of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights movement.” Milk was assassinated in 1978, while serving as supervisor in San Francisco. He was the first openly gay elected official to hold office in a major US city.

“Harvey Milk is a hero who stood for simple equality and justice, and ultimately gave his life for these principles,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese in a press release about the veto. “It would have been fitting to officially recognize his birthday as a day of special significance in California. However, as everyone who admires Harvey Milk fully understands, we can pay this great man lasting tribute by working to make equality a reality for all Californians.”