Slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk once said — and recorded in the event of his assassination — “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”
I’d like to think, if he were alive today, he would be in shock at the number of young people who never had to hide behind a closet door.
On Wednesday, what would have been 89th birthday, the state honored the LGBTQ rights icon declaring his birthday Harvey Milk Day.
“Milk stood firm in his belief that freedom and dignity should extend to all human beings, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, at great personal risk,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a proclamation issued Wednesday. “Milk paid the ultimate price for his advocacy when he was struck down by an assassin’s bullet just a year into his term on the Board of Supervisors. His legacy lives on in laws and policies that protect the LGBTQ community and in the hearts of generations of activists.”
Newsom noted another recognized phrase from Milk: “Hope will never be silent.”
It’s something important to remember as the nation’s capital, in 2019, is still trying to figure out if the LGBTQ community should have the right to housing and employment without discrimination.
North Coast U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) thinks that’s important. And he voted for the Equality Act just last week and it cleared the House of Representative with a resounding 236-173. It just continues to blow me away that now, in the 21st century, 173 elected House reps still think it should be okay to fire someone for being gay. Really? It’s no surprise they are all Republicans (although I applaud the eight GOP members who crossed the aisle and voted for the Equality Act).
Huffman clearly has a similar feeling on that count.
“It’s 2019: how can federal law still allow Americans to be fired from their jobs, or denied service at a restaurant, simply because of their sexual orientation or who they love?” Huffman said in a prepared statement. “The Constitution promises equality under the law for all, and Congress has a duty to uphold these fundamental rights.”
Of course, the president is not far behind in that area.
“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights,” an unnamed senior administration official told the Washington Blade last week.
So, essentially he’s worried that the “freedom to discriminate” is being infringed on. And he feels that is more important than that discrimination be “absolutely opposes.”
Which is exactly why remembering the contributions of men like Harvey Milk is important.
Newsom’s proclamation is not the only way the state is honoring Milk. A Senate resolution authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) is also working its way through the Legislature.
“For six years, I had the deep honor of representing the district that Harvey Milk previously represented on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors,” Wiener said in a statement. “Harvey is one of our community’s most important leaders. He paved the way for so many of the rights we enjoy today, and always reminds us of the importance of giving hope to future generations. Harvey died for our community, but his mark carries on to this day.”
Happy birthday, Harvey!
OUTspoken publishes (mostly) weekly in the Times-Standard. Ruth Schneider can be reached at 707-441-0520.