The Legacy of Harvey Milk

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 

The Boy Scouts just don't get it.

Impatience with injustice should not rest upon the hands of a clock.

But it's cool, really. Don't sweat it. The history of civil rights in America has been marked more by baby steps than transformative strokes of a pen. Abraham Lincoln may have delivered the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves in 1863, but LBJ still had to push through a Civil Rights Act in 1964.

When Obama delivered his second inaugural this year, he linked Selma, Seneca Falls, and Stonewall. It was a moment gay Americans will never forget. Well, it is a moment gay Americans should never forget. Nevertheless, it is still going to take a few more Supreme Court decisions to move the needle. At least we have a president on our side, pushing the envelope for us at every turn.

It was no small matter that after an NBA player came out of the closet last month, the President called him up to wish him well, going on to salute him in a press conference as well.  When the Supreme Court next month gives its blessing and life to gay marriages, that too will be a transformative moment in our lives.

If the Boy Scouts want to spend their days catching up to civilization, that's their loss. In America, you have a constitutional right to be stupid. This year, the Boy Scouts get to raise the banner, but they will be playing 'Taps' for discrimination sooner rather than later.

They are stuck in the middle of the road, allowing gay scouts but not gay scout leaders. Raised in the Catskills Mountains of New York state, I know a little about country roads. In the middle, you only find dead skunks and yellow lines.

Last week, SFGN took part in a special event at the White House, celebrating elected LGBT officials. Tied in to Harvey Milk Day, the event honored 7 different civic leaders from a lesbian State senator in South Carolina, Simone Campbell, to Chris Seelbach, a young gay man elected to the city commission in the most conservative of cities, Cincinnati. It was the first inaugural 'Harvey Milk Champions of Change' celebration.

It would not have happened in a Romney White House.

Milk's name is kept alive by the Harvey milk Foundation, run by his nephew, Stuart Milk, aided by a local lesbian attorney, Miriam Richter. It is ever so important to emphatically state that Stuart Milk has emerged from the shadows of his uncle, and become an international spokesperson for LGBT rights in his own right. The civic leaders honored in his uncle's name at the White House last week all wanted their picture taken with Stuart, and rightfully so.

Living out of an airplane, Stuart can be seen hosting a Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast in San Diego on a Thursday morning and then speaking to Lithuanian officials in Europe the next day. He is America's most well known ambassador, a special and unheralded envoy for LGBT advocacy, often entering arenas where it is frankly unsafe for him to be.  The world is not Wilton Manors, and Wilton Manors is not the world.

There is still much to be done outside America for LGBT rights. Hillary Clinton said as much last year in an international human rights convention. We published her full speech in SFGN, because her commitment warranted, and still warrants, our continuing concern.

We like to think we are doing our part, just as the Harvey Milk Foundation, through Stuart Milk, is doing its share- just as the 7 advocates we featured last week are doing theirs.

We are all in this together, and it is fortunate America finally now has a president on our side.

Speaking of presidents, this year we commemorate the 50th anniversary of JFK's death.

In his memorable inaugural address, he implored Americans not to 'ask what our country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.' So too must you today.

Ask what you can do to make America more fully integrate human rights into our schools and communities; our law and our land. Let's fight for justice today so that our lives will have been worth something tomorrow.

It was Memorial Day this past Monday.  Remember, men like Harvey Milk, shot dead as a city commissioner in San Francisco-decades ago- paid the ultimate price. Even though he wore a civilian uniform, he was a soldier for peace. So too can you be a champion of change. Norm Kent


BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS