by Rex Wockner
National News Briefs
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill Oct. 12 making May 22 "Harvey Milk Day."
According to Equality California, the move "marks the first time in the nation's history that a state will officially recognize and celebrate the contributions of an openly LGBT person with an annual 'day of special significance.'"
Schwarzenegger signed the bill despite a sustained campaign against it by anti-gay activists who don't want schoolchildren to be taught about Milk. The law encourages California public schools and educational institutions to remember Milk, recognize his accomplishments and teach about his contributions to the state.
Schwarzenegger vetoed the same bill last year, saying Milk's "contributions should continue to be recognized at the local level (in San Francisco) by those who were most impacted by his contributions."
But that was before the movie "Milk" hit theaters and before President Barack Obama gave Milk a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom.
"Californians will now learn about Harvey's amazing contributions to the advancement of civil rights for decades to come," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. "He is a role model to millions, and this legislation will help ensure his legacy lives on forever."
Milk settled in San Francisco's Castro district in 1972 and opened a camera store. He went on to pioneer a populist gay rights movement in the city and, in 1977, was elected to the Board of Supervisors, becoming the fourth openly gay American elected to public office, and the first in California.
Milk and Mayor George Moscone were shot to death inside City Hall on Nov. 27, 1978, by then recently resigned city Supervisor Dan White, who was angry that Moscone wouldn't let him un-resign and that Milk had lobbied Moscone not to reappoint White. White's lenient sentence for the killings (seven years and eight months with parole) led to the famed White Night Riots in San Francisco on May 21, 1979.