First-Ever Harvey Milk Day Not Without Controversy

Celebrations mark nation's first openly gay elected politician

Friday, May 21, 2010  |  Updated 9:21 AM PDT
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The first-ever Harvey Milk Day will be celebrated in California Saturday, with several events planned in San Francisco where the former city supervisor and gay rights leader was assassinated in 1978.

The day honoring Milk comes as a result of a bill authored by State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, that was signed into law in October 2009 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Milk would have turned 80 this year.

But there are some who believe there should not be a day to celebrate the nation's first openly gay politician elected to office.

The group SaveCalifornia.com, which opposed the bill to create  Harvey Milk Day, is urging parents to protect their children from the "sexual indoctrination" that they say will take place on the school days surrounding  Harvey Milk Day.

A post on the group's website recommends that parents ask each of their student's teachers if they plan to honor or mention Milk, and to keep  them home if the answer is not "no."

Milk, who was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone in November 1978 by Supervisor Dan White, helped defeat a proposition known as the Briggs Initiative, which would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools.

San Francisco Unified School District spokeswoman Gentle Blythe  said there are no district-planned events regarding Harvey Milk Day today or next week, and that "there will be some discretion school by school if they  want to do something."

San Francisco Harvey Milk Day events:

A new sidewalk plaque honoring Milk will be unveiled during a dedication ceremony outside the building where he ran a camera store prior to becoming supervisor. The dedication is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. outside the store, located at 575 Castro St.

A "Hotcakes for Harvey" pancake breakfast is also being held  Saturday morning at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy. The breakfast is scheduled for 8 a.m. at the school, located at 4235 19th St. A new civil rights mural will also be unveiled at the school at noon Saturday.

A Harvey Milk Day event is also being held Saturday at the College of Alameda. The event will feature a keynote address from Campbell Mayor Evan Low, who in December became the country's youngest openly gay mayor at 26 years old. The event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the College of Alameda' Student Lounge, located on the first level of Building F on campus.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will join Leno, state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, and Milk's nephew, Stuart Milk, at a private  fundraiser this evening to help elect LGBT candidates and their allies to public offices in honor of Harvey Milk Day.

That fundraiser, organized by Equality California, is scheduled  for 5:30 p.m. Friday and will be held at a private location that will be made  available to those who buy the tickets. For more information about the event, visit the Equality California website.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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