Passage of SB 572, the Harvey Milk Day bill, would require the governor of California to proclaim May 22 each year as Harvey Milk Day. It would encourage public schools and educational institutions to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date. It would basically bring awareness to California citizens of the importance of equal rights for LGBT people in this state and ultimately across the nation, and for that matter ‚Äď the world. Stewart Milk, proud openly gay nephew of Harvey Milk, recently expressed his incredible experience when his uncle received a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, America‚Äôs highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama in a ceremony on Aug. 12.
‚ÄúI had the privilege to meet and talk with President Obama who bestowed the nation‚Äôs highest honor upon my uncle for his enduring ‚Äėmessage of hope - hope unashamed, hope unafraid‚Äô as the president stated in his public comments,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI am thrilled by the announcement that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver will induct my uncle into the California Hall of Fame for his contributions to California‚Äôs history and the civil rights of LGBT people.‚ÄĚ
He said he was hopeful that Gov. Schwarzenegger would also take the time to meet with him along with others whose lives are touched by Milk, and hear why it‚Äôs so important for him to sign the Harvey Milk Day bill into law.
Milk said the Hall of Fame is an important symbol that truly needs to be backed up by an annual day offering the opportunity for education and celebration of the diversity that makes California great. However, anti-LGBT activists are busy trying to squash this legislation and erase Milk‚Äôs legacy from history. They and their cohorts have been flooding the governor‚Äôs office with call after call demanding a second veto. And now the California secretary of education has joined them, recently penning a letter stating: ‚ÄúAs you know, the governor vetoed a substantially similar bill last year. The veto message stated that Harvey Milk‚Äôs 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.‚ÄĚ Insert loud boos and hisses here.
But things have changed since last year‚Äôs devastating veto, Stewart Milk said, and the veto message is even less applicable now than then. Since that time, the governor has shown signs that he is open to listening more on this issue. In January, Milk was deeply honored to accept an award from the governor on behalf of his uncle to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California‚Äôs principal civil rights non-discrimination law.
Recently Schwarzenegger made a tell-tale move on his Twitter, posting: ‚ÄúSome interesting bills coming down. Give me your thoughts on the water package, Harvey Milk Day, and the prison reform bills.‚ÄĚ So there is hope. For those Tweeters out there, it would behoove them to respond to Schwarzenegger and let him know that Milk matters! ‚ÄúWhich brings me to the single most important thing you can do to protect Harvey Milk Day: call the governor‚Äôs office right now at (916) 445-2841,‚ÄĚ Milk urged. ‚ÄúAlthough the secretary of education doesn‚Äôt yet understand my uncle‚Äôs global impact, I do believe the governor can see the president‚Äôs perspective when he said, ‚ÄėHarvey Milk was here to recruit us - all of us - to join a movement and change a nation.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
Scott Hall is founder of the organization, Gay American Heroes Foundation, honoring and educating about LGBT people who have been murdered in the name of hate. He and others are establishing a rainbow memorial in their honor. ‚ÄúAll people who live honestly about their sexual orientation or gender identity are heroic, as it takes great strength and courage to face the daily struggles for personal freedom in the face of enormous opposition; to ultimately give their life for said freedom makes them heroes,‚ÄĚ Hall said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs time to show the world our heroes, because our family and friends are being stolen from us because of hate and those who teach it.‚ÄĚ He has put out an excellent youtube 30-second spot by Thea Gill, star of TV‚Äôs Queer as Folk, on youtube.com/watch?v=KEsZonyZlR0.
Hall is also on Facebook as Rainbow Scott and urges people to ‚Äúfriend him.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúHate is poison, and those who teach it are poisonous, and need to be held accountable for their teaching and insidious actions.‚ÄĚ He said the same hate that murdered Martin Luther King is the same hate that murdered Mathew Sheppard, and is the same hate that murdered our fellow Americans in 9/11. Hall is strongly pushing for the passage of SB 572 as a message that hate is unacceptable and un-American. An annual Harvey Milk Day in California would broadcast that message loud and clear.
Hall exhorted, ‚ÄúSo will you wait until the next murder, or will you help TODAY, because now you know!‚ÄĚ