August 5, 2008
Legislature Approves Harvey Milk Day
Bill Authored by Assemblymember Leno, Sponsored by EQCA, Honors One of Nation’s First Openly Gay Civil Rights Champions
SACRAMENTO – The full Legislature has approved a bill that would establish May 22 as Harvey Milk Day in California, honoring the late civil rights pioneer with a day of special significance. On Tuesday, the Senate approved Assembly Bill 2567 with a 22-13 vote. The measure passed the Assembly last month, and will now go to the governor’s desk for signature.
AB 2567, authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and sponsored by Equality California, creates a day of special significance commemorating Milk’s birthday. If the governor signs the measure, California would become the first state in the nation to designate a day honoring a leader of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The bill first returns to the Assembly for a concurrence vote before going to the governor for his signature.
“As one of the nation’s first openly gay leaders, Harvey Milk inspired his community to stand strong and proud in the face of adversity,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “His leadership and courage embodies the rise of our civil rights movement and his achievements and vision will always be an inspiration for Californians of all ages and experiences. We are thrilled the Legislature has passed this measure, recognizing the legacy of Harvey Milk and the important role he played in our state’s history.”
The openly gay civil rights pioneer was a supervisor for the City of San Francisco when he was assassinated in 1978, along with then San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. Milk was murdered by Dan White, a former city supervisor who quit in protest of the city’s new laws protecting LGBT people, which Milk had championed. Milk was also instrumental in helping to defeat an initiative that would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools.
“Both houses of our Legislature have now honored Harvey Milk’s important civil rights legacy, and I am hopeful the governor will sign this bill so that California officially recognizes the message of hope and pride his life inspired,” said Assemblymember Leno.
As a non-fiscal state holiday, AB 2567 does not impact the state budget because it does not increase the number of paid holidays for state employees or suspend public functions.
California law commemorates the contributions of important historical figures and groups including Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, American Indians and Japanese Americans.