Equality California Delivers Close to 40K Petitions Urging Governor to Sign Harvey Milk Day Bill into Law

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Vaishalee Raja, Equality California
916-284-9187 vaishalee@eqca.org

Equality California Delivers Close to 40K Petitions Urging Governor to Sign Harvey Milk Day Bill into Law

After passing both the Assembly and Senate, bill now heads to Governor’s desk

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Today
Equality California (EQCA) and Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco)
delivered close to 40,000 petitions with names of Californians from
every part of the state, urging Governor Schwarzenegger to sign into
law the Harvey Milk Day Bill (Photos).
The bill calls for a "day of special significance" in honor of the
slain civil rights leader and seeks to educate Californians about the
former San Francisco City Supervisor, who became the nation's first
openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) person elected to
political office in a major city. Tens of thousands of phone calls have
also been made from across the state in support of the bill.

"Every
day we hear from people who have been touched by Harvey Milk's
inspiring message of hope and his story of determination and
sacrifice," said Geoff Kors, Equality California executive director. "A
champion for the civil rights of all Californians, Milk's remarkable
legacy is still felt far beyond San Francisco, and this bill is an
appropriate way to pay tribute to the invaluable contributions he made
to our state and to our nation."

Recently,
President Obama posthumously honored Harvey Milk with the Presidential
Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, and Governor
Schwarzenegger announced that the global icon will be inducted into the
California Hall of Fame, which was conceived of by First Lady Maria
Shriver.

Despite
the national and international recognition Harvey Milk has garnered
this year, the Governor's Secretary of Education recently expressed
opposition to the bill, introduced by Senator Leno and sponsored by
EQCA, in a letter that reads:

"As
you know, the Governor vetoed a substantially similar bill last year.
The veto message stated that Harvey Milk's contributions should
continue to be recognized at the local level by those who were most
impacted by his contributions. Since this bill is nearly identical, the
veto message remains applicable."

The
legislation was originally introduced last year by Senator Leno, but
Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the measure at the time, claiming Harvey
Milk was not well known enough beyond San Francisco. Since then,
however, Harvey Milk has become a focal point of national conversation
following the release of the successful biographical film Milk, for
which both actor Sean Penn and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black received
an Academy Award. In March, Penn joined Equality California's campaign
publicly advocating for the bill, and Black testified before a Senate
committee on the need to appropriately honor the civil rights leader.

Milk's
groundbreaking service as an openly gay official helped bring LGBT
people out of the closet and into civic life. During his time in
office, he was responsible for both passing San Francisco's first
gay-rights ordinance and helping to defeat the controversial Briggs
Initiative, which sought to ban gay and lesbian teachers from public
schools. Milk, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, was
assassinated in November 1978.

View photos from today's petition delivery >>

For more information about EQCA's legislation, visit http://www.eqca.org/legislation.

 

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Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians.

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