Ship Naming Vote Set for Harvey Milk Day
San Francisco supervisors are set to vote on a resolution in support of naming a Navy vessel after slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk next week as the state celebrates Milk’s birthday.
At its meeting May 14 the Board of Supervisor’s City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee recommended on a 2-1 vote that the supervisors endorse the proposal. LGBT leaders in San Diego, in conjunction with Milk’s family and several friends, are urging Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to designate a ship the USS Harvey Milk.
The former San Francisco supervisor served in the Navy during the Korean War and was stationed in San Diego. Milk was a diving instructor and was discharged in 1955 at the rank of lieutenant, junior grade.
"He would have loved this and would have thought this was the greatest thing that could happen," said gay retired Naval Reserve Captain Bob Dockendorff, who knew Milk and is a former president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club. "I think he would have considered this a great honor."
But other progressive leaders are against having a warship named after Milk due to his opposition of the Vietnam War. Their arguments led bisexual District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague to vote against the resolution this week at the committee hearing. (District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu voted in support.)
"I received quite an outcry," explained Olague, who has suggested the navy instead name a vessel after Leonard Matlovich, a gay Air Force member who came out in a 1975 Time magazine cover story about the military’s anti-gay policies.