I am proud to join millions of people in California and throughout the world today in celebrating the life of Harvey Milk, born on this day in 1930 and murdered in 1978 because of his outspoken and courageous activism in the fight for equal rights for all people regardless of sexual orientation.
When Harvey Milk first ran for supervisor in San Francisco in 1977, he was told that an openly gay man could never get elected. When he won, he became the first openly gay non-incumbent ever to win an election for public office in the United States.
We’ve come a long way, thanks in large measure to the courage of Harvey Milk.
But much more needs to be done.
We must fight for the elimination of violence and discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity – in our own communities and throughout the world.
We must ensure that governments everywhere respect the dignity and human rights of every minority group and every marginalized community.
When President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Harvey Milk the Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian award, he said Milk was “an agent of change” who “saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way.”
Let’s honor Harvey Milk by each of us, in our own way, being an agent of change.