Attempts to posthumously honor gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk by naming a U.S. naval ship after him and getting the U.S. Postal Service to issue a stamp with his visage gained support from California lawmakers in recent days.
This week the Assembly adopted resolution HR 41 in support of seeing a Milk postage stamp be unveiled, an old mockup of which can be seen at right. Lesbian Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) spearheaded the push to get the Legislature’s lower chamber on board with the now decades-old idea.
“A postage stamp draws attention to important people who may not be familiar to all Americans,” stated Atkins. “Harvey Milk, who gave his life because he led the way for equality, is an ideal choice for this honor.”
In November of 1977 Milk became the first out person to be elected to public office in a major U.S. city. A year later disgruntled former Supervisor Dan White gunned him down in City Hall along with then-Mayor George Moscone.
A Milk stamp idea has been kicking around since the late 1980s, when San Francisco artist Jim Leff, a gay man who knew Milk, painted the above mock-up of what such a stamp could look like. In 2005 San Francisco’s 11-member Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution calling on the U.S. postmaster general to issue one for the gay rights leader.
Momentum for a Milk stamp has been building since the Bay Area Reporter ran a story in March 2009 about a renewed push for the honorarium launched by Ohio resident Daniel Drent. The effort has gained steamed ever since, with various groups, citizens and lawmakers – both LGBT and straight – from across the country backing the proposal.
Despite repeated rumors that a Milk stamp is close to being issued, perhaps as soon as 2013, neither the Postmaster General or the postal service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee have yet to publicly back doing so.
LGBT leaders in San Diego, where Milk was stationed while serving in the Navy as a diving instructor, have been some of the most vocal advocates for both a Milk stamp and seeing a naval ship be christened the U.S.S. Harvey Milk.
Last week the California Senate became the latest group to endorse the idea. Lesbian state Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) led the effort by introducing a resolution urging the Navy’s secretary to name a ship after Milk.
“It’s more than appropriate to my constituents and to all of us that Harvey Milk be remembered for his service in the U.S. military,” Kehoe was quoted as saying in a Los Angeles Times report on the Senate vote.
Senate Resolution 36 was approved on a 25-8 vote, with no Republicans voting in favor, according to the Times.