An effort to pressure U.S. Postal Service officials to unveil the planned Harvey Milk stamp in San Francisco in May has yet to draw widespread public support.
A check of the petition today (Thursday, March 27) found that just 15 people had signed it. It can be found online here.
As the Bay Area Reporter reported last week, local gay philatelist Branton Burke, 48, created a petition on the White House website asking the postal service “to do the right thing” and schedule the issuance ceremony for Milk’s stamp in San Francisco on May 22, which is annually designated Harvey Milk Day in California.
Because the petition has yet to reach 150 signatures, it is not yet publicly viewable on the White House website’s petitions section. Nor does it show up when typing “Harvey Milk” into the search feature for the petitions.
Burke has until April 2 to get 100,000 signatures in order for his petition to be reviewed by the White House.
“I am not upset but I am disappointed,” Burke told the B.A.R. about the lack of support his petition has netted so far.
Based on conversations he has had with officials at the postal service, Burke believes the ceremony will take place May 22 at the White House during the Harvey Milk Champions of Change event when President Barack Obama honors LGBT Americans who have made significant societal contributions.
The post office has not announced any details about the location or date for the ceremony, though postal documents do list the issuance date for the Milk stamp as being May 22. In a story last week in the Washington Blade, Susan McGowan, director of USPS Office of Stamps and Corporate Licensing, acknowledged that the ceremony will occur sometime in May.
“And we hope people will turn out to experience a very special release ceremony,” McGowan told the gay newspaper in D.C., which did not report any location information for the event.
Representatives of the Harvey Milk Foundation, which has worked with the postal service on the design of the stamp, have also yet to disclose any information about when or where the Milk stamp will be unveiled. Stuart Milk, the gay nephew of Harvey, told the B.A.R. last week that he had not been told anything by the postal service to date but had asked he and his family be given at least a month’s notice so they could make the necessary travel arrangements to attend.
Harvey Milk became the first openly gay elected official in both California and San Francisco when he won a seat on the city’s Board of Supervisors in November 1977. A year later he was assassinated inside City Hall along with then-Mayor George Moscone by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White.
He will be the first person celebrated on an official U.S. stamp specifically for their connection to the fight for LGBT rights.
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 a 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 began building again after the B.A.R. reported in March 2009 that Ohio resident Daniel Drent had created a Facebook page in an effort to see one be issued in time for Milk’s 80th birthday on May 22, 2010.
After the B.A.R. interviewed Leff and ran a photo of his Milk stamp in April 2009, the Imperial Court Council picked up the cause. The Harvey Milk Foundation also joined the Harvey Milk National Stamp Campaign. Politicians from across the country sent in letters of support as did ordinary citizens.
Four years ago the B.A.R. broke the news that the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee had contacted Milk’s family about a potential stamp. And last May the paper disclosed that leaked documents obtained by a stamp news outlet showed the advisory committee had voted to release the Milk stamp in 2014.