Arnold Schwarzenegger signs law for Harvey Milk Day


Arnold Schwarzenegger,
has a change of heart –

the governor of California, has signed a law setting aside a day to commemorate Harvey Milk, a gay San Francisco politician who was shot dead three decades ago.


Under the measure, 22 May will be declared Harvey Milk day in California, coinciding with Milk’s birthday. While it will not be a state holiday, schools will be encouraged to hold lessons “remembering the life of Harvey Milk, recognising his accomplishments and familiarising pupils with the contributions he made to this state”.


Milk is only the second Californian, after naturalist John Muir, to receive the honour. One of the first openly gay people elected in the US, Milk and the San Francisco mayor, George Moscone, were shot and killed by Dan White, a disgruntled former supervisor, at city hall in November 1978.


In signing Harvey Milk day into law, Schwarzenegger reversed his position from last year, when he vetoed the measure. The decision by President Barack Obama to award Milk the presidential medal of freedom and an Academy award-winning film about Milk’s life, starring Sean Penn, persuaded Schwarzenegger to change his mind, his spokesman, Aaron McLear, said.


“Harvey Milk symbolises the importance of the gay community in California,” said McClear. “And the governor wanted to honour that community. A well-known film brought awareness of him.”


Mark Leno, a Democratic state senator, who wrote the bill to honour Milk, said he was pleased about the governor’s decision. “In light of his veto message on the same bill last year,” he said, “he clearly evolved in his thinking.”


The day for Milk will be the fourth special day of recognition in the state, joining days for Muir, teachers and the California poppy.


Schwarzenegger signed the measure along with new laws to help gay and lesbian people in California. One of the new laws will give same-sex couples legally married in other states all the rights of marriage in California. The former Hollywood star has approved more legislation in favour of gay rights than any governor in US history, despite his vetoes of bills to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.


Conservative groups ‑ especially those who campaigned successfully to end same-sex marriage in California ‑ strongly opposed the new measures signed by Schwarzenegger. The Campaign for Children and Families called the Harvey Milk law “the strongest impetus yet for loving parents to remove their children from anti-family public schools”.


On the same day that Schwarzenegger signed into law Harvey Milk day, Obama reaffirmed his campaign pledge to end the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military in a speech to America’s largest gay group, although he offered no timetable for implementing his promise.

Source :  Guardian UK