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Milk's 'anti-war' stance torpedoes battleship plans

Out politicians in San Francisco withdraw support for US Navy ship named after Harvey Milk over civil rights icon's 'anti-military philosophy'
Harvey Milk in Navy uniform for his brother's wedding in 1954
Photo provided by Stuart Milk

Two out politicians have refused to back plans to name a US battleship after Harvey Milk because the civil rights icon was 'anti-war' and 'anti-military'.

Gay and bisexual members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, David Campos and Christina Olague, initially supported the resolution drawn up by gay colleague Scott Wiener which urged the US Navy to name a vessel after Milk.

However, the pair withdrew their names as co-sponsors after concerns were raised about the famous activist’s views on the military.

Milk, who became the first openly gay man to serve in public office when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 but was assassinated a year later, served as a diving instructor in the Navy during the Korean War.

However, according to Milk’s friends he later became a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War, reported the Bay Area Reporter.

‘I heard from a lot of people who actually knew him,’ Olague told the Californian gay newspaper.

‘He had an anti-war, anti-military philosophy toward the end of his life.’

Campos added that ‘there are better ways to honor Harvey Milk’.

Wiener is now the sole sponsor on the resolution which states that ‘it is time to recognize the contributions of United States Navy LGBT service members by naming a ship after an LGBT veteran.

‘Milk, in light of his role as a community leader, trailblazer, visionary elected official and Navy veteran fits such a role perfectly on his own behalf and on behalf of the LGBT community.’

Last month, Gay rights group, the GLBT Historic Task Force of San Diego County, sent an official letter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus requesting a ship be named after Milk.

California congressmen Bob Filner and Nancy Pelosi followed by backing the proposal.

Typically, naval aircraft carriers are named after US presidents and submarines are named in honor of states or cities. Exceptions include ships named after civil rights leaders Cesar Chavez, Medgar Evers and most recently Gabrielle Giffords.

Yesterday (9 May) it was announced the city of San Diego will have a street named after Milk.

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