Today, Friday, May 22, is Harvey Milk Day. 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.
Since 2009, in California, Harvey Milk Day has been recognized as a day of special significance and an opportunity to remember and teach about Milk’s life and his work to stop discrimination against gays and lesbians.
We’ve come a long way, thanks in large measure to the courage of Harvey Milk.
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.
Now there are hundreds of openly gay men and women serving their communities and states in elected office.
We must continue to 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 all people in regard to their own gender identity.
We must continue to fight for the sexual and reproductive rights of all people.
That resolution failed on a 2-3 party-line vote last year. As the OC Weekly reported, “the Irvine City Council voted down Fox’s proposal. Instead, they approved an utterly meaningless substitute motion that authorized councilmembers to fly flags of their choosing in their own offices. Even worse, Councilmember Michael Carroll accused Fox of trying to ‘divide the community’ with her resolution. It’s no wonder Fox – who noted during the meeting that LGBT people around the world face violence for who they choose to love – called the vote a ‘circus’.”
I will bring the resolution forward again this year. If you agree, please email the Irvine City Council to let them know that Irvine should join the State of California, as well many other states and cities, including Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, and Fullerton, and the Orange County Fairgrounds, in making it clear to all that our community officially rejects prejudice against people based on who they love and that Irvine is a place where LGBT people are visible, accepted, and welcome.
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 each of us honor Harvey Milk by committing to being an agent of change.
As Governor Newsom reminds us, today we should remember Harvey Milk’s own words “Hope will never be silent” as we “carry on his fearless advocacy and work toward a California for all.”