Entries from: Harvey Milk

Victory Institute Celebrates Announcement of Harvey Milk Stamp

article-2601824-1D016A8B00000578-290_233x383Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute President and CEO Chuck Wolfe issued the following statement today regarding the first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony of the Harvey Milk forever stamp, set to take place at the White House on May 22:

“Harvey Milk urged LGBT people to seek public office because he understood the power of elected officials to create change. Since his high-profile election in San Francisco, thousands of LGBT people around the world have responded to his call to serve their own communities by seeking elected and appointed office, and indeed that is helping to change our world. We applaud President Obama and his administration for opening the White House to this historic occasion, and we are especially grateful to the Harvey Milk Foundation and everyone who worked to make this possible. We hope the issuance of the Harvey Milk stamp will inspire a new generation of young LGBT leaders to choose careers in public service and continue his important work.”

Milk is the first out official ever to be featured on a forever stamp

The Victory Institute is the nation’s largest resource for openly LGBT candidates and public officials, providing training and executive development to help them win public office and serve effectively. Learn more at www.victoryinstitute.org.

White House to honor 10 LGBT officials on Harvey Milk Day

White_House_WashingtonThe White House has released a list of 10 openly LGBT public officials it will honor Wednesday as “Harvey Milk Champions of Change.”  The event falls on Harvey Milk Day, which commemorates the civil rights leader’s birthday. (Watch LIVE here at 3:00 pm EDT.)

“These are LGBT leaders who have demonstrated a strong commitment to both equality and public service,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund and Institute.  ”They are citizen legislators, executives and appointees who serve honestly, openly and proudly.  We congratulate and salute each of them for this high honor.”

The 2013 Harvey Milk Champions of Change are:

  • Simone Bell – Georgia State Representative, Atlanta, GA
  • Angie Buhl O’Donnell – South Dakota State Senator, Sioux Falls, SD
  • Karen Clark – Minnesota State Representative, South Minneapolis, MN
  • Michael A. Gin – Mayor of Redondo Beach, Redondo Beach, CA
  • Kim Coco Iwamoto – Hawaii State Civil Rights Commissioner, Honolulu, HI
  • John Laird – California Secretary of Natural Resources, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Ricardo Lara – California State Senator, Long Beach, CA
  • Kim Painter – Johnson Country Recorder, Iowa City, IA
  • Chris Seelbach – Cincinnati City Council Member, Cincinnati, OH
  • Pat Steadman – Colorado State Senator, Denver, CO

White House seeks nominations to honor “Harvey Milk Champions of Change”

harvey-milkThe White House yesterday announced it will honor a group of openly LGBT state or local elected officials who have demonstrated a strong commitment to both equality and public service. Citizens are encouraged to nominate these “Harvey Milk Champions of Change” by April 19th.

According to the White House, members of the public are invited to nominate candidates for consideration.  Nominees should be LGBT individuals who have been elected or appointed to state or local office, and who have demonstrated a strong commitment to public service.  ”Please keep in mind that, in the spirit of the Champions of Change program, we are looking for unsung heroes – individuals whose contributions have gone unrecognized,” said Gautam Raghavan, Associate Director at White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.

“LGBT elected officials who’ve followed in Harvey Milk’s footsteps are serving not just their constituents, but the cause of equality for all.  Their example and their voices are helping to change our country.  We’re thrilled the White House will recognize the hard work of some of these heroes,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund and Institute.

Dream of a “Harvey Milk Airport” takes flight in S.F.

harveymilksfoHarvey Milk is among the world’s most well-known LGBT leaders, and now one elected official in San Francisco wants to make sure visitors and travelers who stop there understand how important his contributions were to the struggle for LGBT equality.

Openly gay San Francisco Supervisor David Campos has introduced legislation to honor Milk by adding his name to San Francisco International Airport, a hub for tens of millions of travelers every year.  His bill, which would send the question to the city’s voters, quickly gained four co-sponsors after its introduction. But there’s a lot of work left to do.

Campos recently spoke with Gay Politics about the effort and what it will take to make SFO the world’s first airport to be named for an LGBT person.

GP:  What exactly would your legislation do and how would it eventually lead to adding Harvey Milk’s name to SFO?

DC:  I have introduced a Charter Amendment that would add Harvey Milk’s name to our airport to make it the “Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport.”  Our SFO airport code would remain unchanged.  In San Francisco, a Charter Amendment must be passed by the Board of Supervisors (six votes) and then passed by voters (50% +1).

GP:  What’s the status of the legislation right now?

DC:  There are five cosponsors of the legislation, including myself. So, we need one more vote at the Board to pass the Charter Amendment and let voters decide. However, we will first hold public hearings on the legislation and get feedback from as many individuals as possible. If people want to show their support, we have launched a petition at www.change.org/harveymilk.

GP:  Have you had any push back?  Is there significant opposition forming?

DC:  Most people have been very supportive. We have nearly a dozen San Francisco elected leaders endorsing  the legislation, along with local, state and national organizations (the full list can be found at www.harveymilksfo.com) It is a very diverse coalition.  At the same time, there has been some high-profile pushback from the San Francisco Chronicle, really echoing the kind of negative statements that were made when Harvey Milk first decided to run for office as an openly-gay man almost 40 years ago. But Harvey Milk wasn’t afraid of adversity and that’s one reason he is such a fitting hero to honor with our airport name.

GP:  Why Harvey Milk and not some other civil rights hero?

DC:  Harvey Milk has been an inspiration to millions and is known around the world. He has been honored by President Obama, has his own day in California  and is  the California Hall of Fame. So many have come to San Francisco to free themselves because of what Harvey Milk did and the sacrifice he made. So it is really fitting and appropriate to put his name on our international gateway.

And this is something that many cities and regions do. There are 80 airports in the United States named after individuals. Each one expresses the values and identity of their region – for example, Norm Mineta in San Jose, Thurgood Marshall in Baltimore, and John Wayne in Orange County. Not a single airport, however, is named after an LGBT leader.

With the battle for marriage equality at a tipping point, this is the right moment – and San Francisco is the right place – to make this statement, and send out that beacon of hope that Harvey stood for across the country and around the world.

GP:  What do you hope having a Harvey Milk SFO would achieve?  What would it mean?

DC:  I would like every one of the 40 million passengers who fly through SFO every year to engage with the continuing legacy and civil rights struggle embodied in the life  of Harvey Milk. For those who are gay, and who may suffer discrimination and marginalization, it would be a beacon of hope.  For others, it would be an affirmation of all we have fought for and achieved. And I believe it would do exactly what President Obama did in his inauguration speech, where he connected the struggles in Selma with struggle at Stonewall – all part of our civil rights heritage that needs to be constantly honored, strengthened and defended.

GP:  What’s been the response to your legislation both within the city and beyond?

DC:  There has been vast interest in the legislation here in San Francisco, across the country and around the world. The initial news coverage was picked up by dozens of national and international news outlets because it means something to people everywhere.  Our petition at www.change.org/harveymilk got over 10,000 signatures the first week it was posted – a testament to how inspired people are by Harvey and this idea.

To show your support for Campos’ legislation, sign this Change.org petition.

Image:  HarveyMilkSFO.com

San Francisco airport may be renamed to honor Harvey Milk

Harvey-Milk_PhotoCredit_RexFeaturesSan Francisco International Airport could soon become Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport, making it the first airport in the world to be named after a LGBT person.

David Campos, an openly gay member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, is sponsoring a charter amendment that would prompt the name change. The Associated Press reports that five of Campos’ colleagues must agree to add the proposed name change to the November ballot for voters to approve.

Campos believes the name change would provide an important learning opportunity for the millions of travelers who pass through the airport each year. “The idea that millions of people can learn about Harvey Milk and what he represented is very moving,” he told the AP.

According to the AP, 68 countries with flights in and out of SFO still punish homosexuality by law. Stuart Milk, Harvey’s nephew, emphasized the impact of the name change for many international LGBT travelers: “For young gay people in an illegal place looking up at a monitor and being able to point to this international airport named after an LGBT advocate, it gives them the green light to authenticity. It’s a major representation that (they) are being celebrated somewhere in the world in a high-level way.”

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote on the amendment in the coming weeks.

David Campos has served as a member of the city’s Board of Supervisors since his election in 2008.

Photo: Rex Features