California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a proposed Harvey Milk Day. The measure would have set aside the birthday of the slain gay activist/politician in his memory and encourage public schools to commemorate and educate about the history of California’s first openly gay politician.
Schwarzenegger’s veto came on the last day possible to kill the legislation introduced by openly gay Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and passed by lawmakers.
In his veto message issued Tuesday, the governor explained his reasons for vetoing the measure.
“I respect the author’s intent to designate May 22nd as ‘Harvey Milk Day’ and a day of special significance for California public schools and educational institutions to honor Harvey Milk as an important community leader and public official in the city and county of San Francisco. However, I believe his contributions should continue to be recognized at the local level by those who were most impacted by his contributions.”
Gay activist Milk won a long-fought election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. But it was a short-lived victory. The next year Dan White, another supervisor, assassinated Milk along with Mayor George Moscone at San Francisco City Hall.
Milk was also a prominent gay activist, who fought against anti-gay initiatives and dubbed himself the “Mayor of Castro Street.”
Conservative groups had condemned the legislative effort to give Milk his own day.
“It’s crazy,” Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute, told news10, the Sacramento ABC affiliate. “It’s a day that celebrates the history of a gay individual for being gay. That’s his claim to fame.”
Milk’s life and legacy is being dramatized in a new film to be released in November. Early speculation about director Gus Van Sant’s biopic, where Milk is played by Sean Penn, is that it has Oscar potential.
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