FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2008
CONTACT: Ali Bay, Communications Manager
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Harvey Milk Bill Passes First Senate Committee
Bill Authored by Assemblymember Leno, and Sponsored by EQCA, Would Honor the LGBT Civil Rights Pioneer Each May 22
SACRAMENTO – Civil rights activist Harvey Milk would be commemorated with an official day honoring his leadership under a bill approved today by the California Senate Government Organization Committee.
Senate committee members passed Assembly Bill 2567, which would establish May 22 as Harvey Milk Day in California, with a 6-4 vote. The legislation is authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and sponsored by Equality California. If the measure is passed in the full Senate and signed by the governor, California would become the first state in the nation to designate a day commemorating a leader of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
“Today the Senate Committee recognized the unforgettable leadership of Harvey Milk, the former San Francisco Supervisor who knowingly risked his life because he believed that equality could only be achieved by living openly and honestly,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “Milk was a courageous leader who inspired an entire community to stand up for fairness and justice. By passing this historic bill, the Senate would acknowledge what our history books have long ignored – that Milk’s achievements and vision deserve wide recognition.”
AB 2567 heads to the Senate Education Committee next, before going to a full vote on the Senate floor.
Milk was one of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials. He was assassinated in 1978, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, by a homophobic colleague with the Board of Supervisors. AB 2567 would proclaim May 22 as Harvey Milk Day, in honor of his birth. The bill would encourage public schools and educational institutions to conduct activities teaching students about this important LGBT leader. As a non-fiscal state holiday, it would not impact the state budget because it does not increase the number of paid holidays for state employees or suspend public functions.
“Harvey would be proud to know that his legacy continues to teach us to believe in ourselves and our dreams,” said Assemblymember Leno. “Given the alarming rates of suicide, depression, substance abuse, bullying and violence against LGBT youth in our schools, the bill aims to give LGBT and straight students alike a positive representative of who LGBT people are that inspires pride and self-esteem rather than fear and shame. That is what Harvey was all about,” he said.
During the 1970s, Milk worked to pass an LGBT civil rights ordinance in San Francisco and helped defeat an initiative that would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools.
California law commemorates the contributions of important historical figures and groups including Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, American Indians and Japanese Americans.
Founded in 1998, Equality California celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2008, commemorating a decade of building a state of equality in California. EQCA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. www.eqca.org
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