Guest Blogger

Stuart Milk: Hall of Fame isn't good enough for my uncle

Filed By Guest Blogger | August 26, 2009 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Politics, The Movement
Tags: California, Hall of Fame, Harvey Milk, Harvey Milk Day, Schwarzenegger, Stuart Milk

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Stuart Milk is the out nephew of slain civil rights hero Harvey Milk.

This month I had the privilege to meet and talk with President Obama who bestowed the nation's highest honor upon my uncle for his enduring "message of hope - hope unashamed, hope unafraid" as the President stated in his public comments.

StuartMilk.jpgYesterday I was 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's history and the civil rights of LGBT people.

I am hopeful that Gov. Schwarzenegger will also take the time to meet with me along with others whose lives are touched by Harvey Milk, and hear why it's so important for him to sign the Harvey Milk Day bill into law.

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 my uncle's legacy from history. They and their cohorts have been flooding the Governor's office with call after call demanding a second veto.

And now the California Secretary of Education has joined them, recently penning a letter stating:

"As you know, the governor vetoed a substantially similar bill last year. The veto message stated that Harvey Milk's 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."

But things have changed since last year's devastating veto, and the veto message is even less applicable now than then. Since that time, the Governor has shown signs that he's open to listening more on this issue. In January I was deeply honored to accept an award from the Governor on behalf of my uncle to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California's principal civil rights non-discrimination law.

Just yesterday, the Governor made a tell-tale move on his Twitter, posting: "Some interesting bills coming down. Give me your thoughts on the water package, Harvey Milk Day, and the prison reform bills."

For those of you Tweeters out there, please respond @Schwarzenegger and let him know that Milk matters! EQCA immediately urged its Twitter followers to do the same, and so far we've been able to keep the conversation positive, but the governor needs to keep hearing from us. He's sure hearing from the other side, who have been relentless in their attacks on the Harvey Milk Day bill and in their lies about our community.

Which brings me to the single most important thing you can do today to protect Harvey Milk Day: call the Governor's office right now at 916.445.2841.

Although the Secretary of Education doesn't yet understand my uncle's global impact, I do believe the Governor can see the President's perspective when the he said "Harvey Milk was here to recruit us -- all of us -- to join a movement and change a nation."

Thank you.

SB 572, the Harvey Milk Day would require the governor 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. Learn more at

(Crossposted at California Ripple Effect.)

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Sounds pretty interesting, but since I live in Georgia, this means very little to me. Also, it appears (in the movie) that your uncle took a long time embracing the help of lesbians or including them, and the one who did help him was treated badly. We cannot say how he would have treated trans people had he lived today, and in the 1970s, we were not on the radar for him to consider including us.

I would think the last Friday in June would be appropriate for this day, or June 28th, the first day of the Stonewall riots. LGBT people are already celebrating around that time. Would this be a paid state holiday? That could kill the deal in a state that is looking for excuses to not pay anyone at all. Lots of luck.

Doug Woodall | August 28, 2009 3:32 PM

Everyone needs to stop thinking movies tell us history as it really happened. The minute a screenwriter creates dialogue, he or she has lied to us. When directors and actors block the scenes, they have lied to us. No one can replicate what Harvey Milk, Henry VIII, or Moses did, said, or thought. I'm not telling you to stop going to historical movies. Just remember they tell people's stories in three acts--a beginning, a middle, and the end--because it's the most logical way to do it, help us understand what we're watching, and entertain us. (Do you really know anyone who's lived a three-act life?) If you want to know about someone who lived in the past, put the movie aside and do some serious research. I still chuckle when I think of the woman in one of my humanities classes who talked as if "The Ten Commandments" was the true story of Moses.

Because I grew up in a family where homophobia was not acceptable to express I had no idea that many people would think that I was screwed up.

Harvey Milk died and it hit the news when I was around 12 and just starting to realize that there were a lot of people out there who would not accept me and that I had a text book mental illness for feeling what was natural to me.

I guess that I am part of that generation of youngsters at the time to which Harvey Milk meant a great deal.

Harvey Milk is an American icon for equal rights for members of the LGBT community. When he was elected to the Board of
Supervisors in San Francisco, Harvey Milk became the first openly Gay person to be elected in California to public office.
As an openly Gay man in the 1970's, his election really promoted the self-esteem of members of the LBGT community across this
great nation. Harvey Milk was responsible for the passage in the city of San Francisco a very strong Gay rights ordinance.
His contributions to the continuing struggles for full equality for members of the LBGT community must be remembered and
justly honored.

Stuart, best wishes on everything. Your uncle had a big impact on me and he deserves the best.

Thank you for keeping the legacy alive.

Chitown Kev | August 26, 2009 8:00 PM

Stuart, I am so ashamed to say this (since I'm gay) but I just finished reading "The Mayor of Castro Street:" for the very first time. I always knew that Harvey Milk was supposed to be a hero of mine and I certainly appreciated his legacy.

Harvey Milk is now a hero of mine and is deserving of a day of recognition by the state of California.

Wow. Culture shock.

The idea of an Indiana state holiday in honor of a member of the LGBT community is about as foreign to me as the idea of being protected from hate crimes, having the ability to keep my job based on my work performance, being inducted into the State Hall of Farme, walking into the courthouse and getting a marriage license, or not being harassed by the police.

Obama knows what he does, everything will be fine
Thank you for good post

How do you Obama in the role of interlocutor?