Harvey Milk honored

Nov 022005
Authors: Natasha Grunden

Like the superheroes of children's TV shows, Harvey Milk arrived just in the nick of time. However, the hero with unlimited potential was destroyed too early.

Milk, the first openly gay politician to come out, made himself known on a national level as a human rights advocate. In 1978, Milk was a city supervisor for San Francisco.

In celebration of Harvey Milk Day, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Student Services (GLBTSS) sponsored a table on the Plaza Wednesday.

"He reminds me of the bravery and civic duty that is ignored today," said Andy Bullecks , junior history major.

After watching the film "The Life and Times of Harvey Milk," Bullecks, who works in GLBTSS, felt the need to remember this instrumental figure in gay rights history.

"He gave a voice to those Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community who didn't have one," Bullecks said. "He was a complete populist who looked out for everyone."

After the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969, when police targeted patrons of gay bars, many New Yorkers in the GLBT community moved westward to San Francisco, specifically the Castro neighborhood because it was then a good migration site because of cheap housing.

The influx of gays to the Bay Area allowed well-liked Milk to lead a coalition that stood out statewide against California's Proposition 6.

"Proposition 6 was another in a line of anti-gay legislation," Bullecks said.

This measure would allow the dismissal of any GLBT teacher, and like many of the initiatives across the nation, voters expected it to win by a landslide. The defeat of the proposition was the first victory for the entire GLBT community, Bullecks said.

Twenty-five days after the defeat of Proposition 6, former city supervisor Dan White, upset about the election results as well as not getting his job back after he resigned, visited the city council building where he shot both Milk and Mayor George Moscone.

Convicted of voluntary manslaughter, the state sentenced White to seven years in prison. Bullecks said he attributes the short sentence to the fact Milk was gay.

"I don't know what it's like to be discriminated against," said Abra McGillivary, sophomore math major .

When Milk and Moscone died in 1978, 50,000 people shut down Market Street in San Francisco to hold a candlelight vigil. Wednesday two candles, in honor of the two men, burned on the table set up by GLBTSS.

"It's important to make their voices heard," said Mandi Credle, sophomore English major.

Bullecks said he hopes the nation will hear those voices.

"I hope America will get back to people standing up to do what's right even if society's telling them they're wrong," he said.

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