Just a few days shy of what would have been Harvey Milk’s 79th birthday, the state Senate on Thursday, May 14 passed legislation that creates Harvey Milk Day in California in honor of the state’s first openly gay elected official.
SB 572, authored by state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), cleared the Senate with a 24-14 bipartisan vote. The bill designates May 22, Milk’s birthday, as a day of special significance in California. It would not be a paid holiday.
“Harvey Milk is an inspiration to Californians who believe in fairness and equality,” Leno said in a statement. “He fought for many of the issues we value today, including access to education, public transportation, affordable housing, and the environment. Harvey Milk gave his life for what he believed in.”
Milk, who represented the Castro while on the board, was assassinated along with then-Mayor George Moscone by ex-Supervisor Dan White in November 1978. The City Hall killings shocked the city. Next week, May 21, is the 30th anniversary of the White Night riots, when people angrily took to the streets after a jury convicted White of manslaughter instead of murder.
SB 572 is sponsored by Equality California and co-authored by 22 members of the Legislature, including out lawmakers Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), and Assemblymen Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and John Perez (D-Los Angeles).
The bill now goes to the Assembly, where it will be heard in committee.