News broke this morning that David Campos, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, intends to introduce legislation that would rename the city's airport in honor of slain gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk. If five of Campos' colleagues vote to approve the amendment - which seems likely, given the fact that he already has four co-sponsors - it will go before the voters of San Francisco in November. If voters choose to pass it, San Francisco would become the first city in the world with an airport honoring an openly gay person.
The Washington Post reports that flights arriving at and departing from San Francisco's airport serve dozens of countries where homosexuality is illegal. Wouldn't it send an awesome message to the world about the inclusion of LGBT people and our rightful place in society if those flights went through Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport instead? Milk's nephew Stuart thinks so. He told the San Francisco Chronicle:
"When you think of the 9 million international visitors, coming from many of the 77 countries where it's still illegal to be LGBT - people forget that there are still 77 countries where it's criminal to be who you are. To be in Dubai, and see on the board a flight that ends at Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport, or to be a young Pakistani, in a country where it is illegal to be gay, look up and see the name of a gay icon and feel, 'I am not alone' - it resonates back to my uncle and the calls he got from places like Altoona, Pa., when he was elected."
Milk continued, saying that the airport
" ... is a global entry point to North America, and with this we are saying, 'We are including everyone.' ... It shows what a global community we have become and how we are teaching equality."
According to the Post, such an honor is typically reserved for former presidents (and cowboys, apparently). I don't know about any of you, but I'm disgusted every time I fly to or through the DC airport named for Ronald Reagan, the president who ignored HIV and AIDS for so many years (and, in my view, has the blood of thousands of gay men on his hands as a result). Renaming SFO for Harvey Milk, in addition to recognizing a civil-rights hero and sending an important pro-equality message, would serve as a wonderful counterbalance: This time, the bigots would be squirming instead.