The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Brian Richardson
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Harvey Milk Day Bill Passes Key Assembly Committee

Bill Already Passed Senate; Expected to Pass Assembly


California State Assembly Education Committee today endorsed the Harvey
Milk Day Bill by a 6-1 margin. The bill, authored by Senator Mark
Leno (D -- San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California (EQCA),
calls for a "day of special significance" in honor of slain civil
rights leader Harvey Milk. The bill also 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.

"Harvey Milk risked
everything to change the course of history and to advance civil rights
for the LGBT community," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors.
"There is no one more deserving of this honor than Harvey."

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.

"Harvey Milk is an inspiration to
Californians who believe in fairness and equality," said Senator Leno.
"He fought for many of the issues we value today, including access to
education, public transportation, affordable housing and protecting the
environment. Harvey Milk gave his life for what he believed in, and
with that courage and sacrifice he gave hope to an entire generation of
gay and lesbian people whose basic humanity and freedom had been denied
and dishonored," he said.

The legislation was originally
introduced last year by Sen. Leno, but Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed
the measure at the time, claiming Harvey Milk was not well known enough
beyond San Francisco. Since that time, 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 calling for the
day; earlier this month, Black testified before a Senate Committee on
the need to appropriately honor the civil rights leader.

The bill
has already passed the Senate by a 24-14 vote, including bipartisan
support. The bill now moves to the Assembly floor for a full vote
where it is also expected to pass. Following that vote, it will go to
the Governor's desk, where, this year, supporters hope he will sign the
bill into law. To find out more information about EQCA's legislation,

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.