SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Harvey Milk, the San Francisco supervisor and Navy veteran whose 1978 murder spurred outrage and support for the gay rights movement, was honored by the Navy Tuesday by the dedication of the USNS Harvey Milk, the second ship in a new class of military tankers.
Milk was stationed in San Diego from 1951 to 1955 as a diving instructor and was honorably discharged. California’s first openly gay elected official, he was assassinated on Nov. 27, 1978 by another supervisor, who also killed Mayor Dan Moscone.
The Harvey Milk is a military Sealift Command Fleet Oiler, the second in the new John Lewis class of oilers, which will include the Sojourner Truth, the Robert F. Kennedy, the Lucy Stone and the Earl Warren.
A San Diego delegation attended the ceremony in San Francisco, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City Councilman Todd Gloria and Human Rights Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez, who, as Faulconer’s LGBT advisory board co-chair, helped drive the campaign to name a ship in Milk’s honor.
Gloria led the San Diego City Council in 2012 in dedicating the first Harvey Milk Street in the United States.
“Beyond his service to his country as an elected official and as a veteran, Harvey inspired those in the gay community and beyond to demand their rights and participate in politics in order to prove that America’s diversity can be its greatest asset,” Gloria said in a statement.
“[The] naming ceremony for the USNS Harvey Milk is a significant honor to the memory of a great figure in American history and a strong affirmation that all those who serve our country are worthy of our highest respect and praise.”
The Harvey Milk will be built by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, and is expected to be completed in 2018 or 2019.
Milk’s assassin, Dan White, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder, in a trial that led to the derisory term “Twinkie defense.” White’s attorneys argued that he suffered from depression, one of whose symptoms was that he changed his diet from healthy food to sugary snacks like Twinkies. White served five years of a seven-year sentence, returned to San Francisco, and committed suicide less than two years later.
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