Friends and admirers of the late San Francisco supervisor and gay rights activist have been rallying to establish an annual commemorative day in his honor, and on Thursday, the California Senate approved a bill that would officially make Milk’s birthday, May 22, Harvey Milk Day in the Golden State.

Predictably, certain of the bill’s opponents are using scare tactics, apparently aiming to alarm right-wing parents (among others) by claiming that the measure’s passage would result in the mandatory observance of “gay day” in California’s schools … and even “bisexual or transsexual pride parades in schools every May 22.”

However, the lone Republican to vote for the bill, state Sen. Abel Maldonado, broke with his party after reading the fine print instead of buying the hard-line spin and suggested that his conservative colleagues do the same.

AP via Gay & Lesbian Times:

It would designate each May 22 — Milk’s birthday — as Harvey Milk Day. The “day of special significance” would recognize Milk’s life and contributions to the state but would not be an official holiday, meaning there would be no cost to state government.

It also would encourage public schools to conduct “suitable commemorative exercises” in honor of Milk on that day.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a nearly identical bill last year, saying it should be up to each community to determine if it wanted to honor Milk, a San Francisco supervisor who was assassinated in 1978.

The bill’s supporters hope the success of “Milk,” the 2008 film about the first openly gay man elected to public office in California, will encourage the Republican governor to change his mind if this year’s bill reaches his desk.

“If there’s one thing Arnold Schwarzenegger understands, it’s box office,” [state Sen. Mark] Leno said. “Harvey Milk now has box office.”

Read more

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig