Leno seeks Milk holiday
by Matthew S. Bajko
The premiere for the Milk movie now being filmed in the Castro could coincide with the debut of California's 14th official state holiday, should lawmakers pass a bill seeking to proclaim May 22 "Harvey Milk Day."
State Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) plans to introduce the bill during the Legislature's session this year. It would establish Milk's birthday as a non-fiscal state holiday each year, meaning schoolchildren and state workers would not be given the day off.
It is believed to be the first time an effort has been launched to create an official state holiday on behalf of a gay rights pioneer. Leno will formally announce plans to create the holiday Friday, February 1 at a press conference in City Hall.
He said he was inspired by the filming of the movie to seek creation of a Milk holiday. The movie, starring Bay Area resident Sean Penn, will retrace Milk's rise among San Francisco's political scene and end with his tragic death.
"Harvey Milk was a true American hero," said Leno. "He gave hope to a generation of gay and lesbian individuals whose basic humanity and freedom had been denied and dishonored. His history is our history, and a day in his honor will preserve his legacy for generations to come."
Milk was born on May 22, 1930 and would have been 78 years old this year. He moved to San Francisco in 1972, and in 1977, Milk lang=EN became the first openly gay elected official of any large city in the United States, and only the third openly gay elected official in the nation.
Milk, along with then-Mayor George Moscone, was assassinated inside his City Hall office by former Supervisor Dan White on November 27, 1978. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the politicians' deaths.
Due to the state's $14 billion budget deficit, Leno said the bill would be crafted in a way so as not to generate additional state costs or increase the number of paid state holidays. The last time the state added a new holiday was in 2000 when it established March 31 as "Cesar Chavez Day."
The day coincides with the birthday of the labor rights activist. It, though, is a paid holiday for state employees, and students in public schools (K-12) and community colleges are given the day off.