Movement for the ‘USS Harvey Milk’

James Patrick Carraghan

James Patrick Carraghan is an award-winning activist, writer, librarian and student at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. He spends his free time gardening, hording books and flirting. You can follow him on tumblr at http://thelibrarynevercloses.tumblr.com/

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For the past two years, there has been a campaign to have a ship in the United States Navy named after Harvey Milk, a Navy veteran and the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in the United States. The campaign began in 2012 in San Diego. San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria said in a written statement, ‘Given the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I believe that naming a vessel in honour of Harvey Milk will continue the strong message that as Americans we honour the service of all equally.’

The campaign seemed to be going well when Gloria met with Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus—who has final call of how a ship will be named. But nine months later, there seems to be no movement on the issue.

‘I think the Secretary of the Navy will see how much this ship will mean to gay and lesbian and other minorities…’ Nicole Murray Ramirez, a San Diego City Commissioner said. Talking to the Washington Blade, she later said, ‘This is going to happen. It’s not a question of “if.” It’s a question of when.’

The US Navy has yet to confirm or deny that they are considering naming a ship after the late council member.

Harvey Milk reached into the public consciousness in 2008, following the release of Gus Van Sant’s Acadamy Award-winning film, Milk, which starred Sean Penn and James Franco. Both Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated in 1978 by former San Francisco City Supervisor Dan White. Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. In 2009, his nephew Stuart Milk and Anne Kronenberg joined together to form the Harvey Milk Foundation, which seeks ‘to empower local, regional, national and global organizations so that they may fully realize the power of Harvey Milk’s story, style and collaborative relationship building.’

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