New State Laws: Harvey Milk Day

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
A day to honor slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk is among the new state laws that go into effect on January first. 

Capital Public Radio's Steve Shadley continues our series with this report...
 Thanks to a new state law, Milk will be honored each year in California on his birthday, May 22nd.
In 1977, Milk became the first openly gay man to get elected to the San Francisco Board Of Supervisors. 

In this documentary “The Times of Harvey Milk”...Milk reflected on his campaign to get a gay rights ordinance
passed in San Francisco...
Milk:   “The main focus is to prevent the people who are already employed who are gay...who if they want to come out and break down the stereotypes...prevents them from being fired. In San Francisco they can come out and not worry about their jobs...”
Democratic State Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco wrote the Milk Day bill.

He says it’s not a paid holiday for state workers, rather a “special day of significance” honoring Milk’s life and work...

“I don’t think the second half of twentieth-century California can be told without recognizing this heroic individual. And he fought not just for LGBT civil rights...he fought for workers rights and the environment, transit, children and seniors. He fought for everyone and anyone who didn’t have a voice...”
Leno’s Milk Day legislation says all California public schools are encouraged to observe and conduct commemorative exercises honoring Milk.

That has conservative groups like the California Family Council upset.   Spokesman Everett Rice says Milk Day shouldn’t be observed in school...
Rice: “At a time where school districts are trying to deal with a tight budget and some school districts are actually cutting their school year...we’re now passing a bill that is encouraging districts to set aside a special time for this non-academic purpose...”
Milk Day supporters were surprised when Governor Schwarzenegger signed the legislation earlier this year...because he had vetoed similar measures in the past. 

But, Senator Leno believes the governor now has a better understanding of Milk’s impact on the world.