Harvey Milk awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Harvey MilkThe White House announced today that San Francisco civil rights leader Harvey Milk will be honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. From the White House press release:

Harvey Milk became the first openly gay elected official from a major city in the United States when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Milk encouraged lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens to live their lives openly and believed coming out was the only way they could change society and achieve social equality. Milk, alongside San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, was shot and killed in 1978 by Dan White, a former city supervisor.  Milk is revered nationally and globally as a pioneer of the LGBT civil rights movement for his exceptional leadership and dedication to equal rights.

The Victory Fund which advocates on behalf of LGBT leaders responded to the news:

“We are thrilled President Obama is honoring Harvey Milk with the Medal of Freedom.  He’s an American hero and trailblazer whose election more than 30 years ago triggered a political awakening that inspires us still today.  This recognition sends an important message about how critical political leadership will be in making all Americans equal in the eyes of the law,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.

Stuart Milk echoed Wolfe’s praise, saying, “The President’s action today touches the core of our very human hearts and my uncle would be so proud of this high honor.  His election was, for him, a beginning–a chance to make real change.  That change is happening, but we still have so far to go.  I hope this recognition inspires LGBT Americans everywhere to heed Harvey’s call to run for office, to serve openly, to live proudly with authenticity and to demand the equality that we all deserve.”

Harvey’s nephew Stuart Milk will be at the White House to accept the honor on August 12. Other recipients include openly lesbian tennis legend Bill Jean King and LGBT ally Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Post by ILO on 07/30/09 at 11:16 am