US Navy to Name Ship After LGBT Activist Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk, celebrated gay activist and politician, will soon be memorialized by the U.S. Navy as they christen a fleet oiler the USNS Harvey Milk, reports USNI News.

Milk, whose was the son of two Navy veterans, served aboard the USS Kittiwake as a diving officer during the Korean War. He was discharged from the Navy at the rank of lieutenant, junior grade, and in 1977 become the first openly gay man to hold public office in California. He held the position until he was assassinated by a fellow city official the following year.

The USNS Harvey Milk’s announcement follows years of petitions and motions by organizations such as the Harvey Milk Foundation and the International Court Council to name a ship after the late politician.

“When he was assassinated,” the International Court Council writes, “Harvey Milk was wearing his U.S. Navy Master Diver belt buckle. He earned it during his four years of Honorable Service in the U.S. Navy, and was one of the achievements he was most proud of. The blood stained shirt, shoes and belt buckle are on display at the Historical Society.”

In 2012, his nephew and Harvey Milk Foundation co-founder Stuart Milk discussed the importance of naming a ship after his uncle. He told the San Diego LGBT Weekly that “as an American hero who proudly wore the uniform of a Naval officer, the naming of a major vessel after Harvey [would] add that most American value of equality and democracy to the proud message of inclusion for which military service now exemplifies.” Milk was referring, of course, to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

He continued that naming a ship after his uncle would “further send a green light to all the brave men and women who serve our nation that honesty, acceptance and authenticity are held up among the highest ideals of our military.”

The ship’s christening joins the myriad of ways Milk’s life has been memorialized. In 2009, Milkwas nominated for an Oscar for the Best Motion Picture of the Year and won for both Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role and Best Writing, Original Screenplay.

More recently, as vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine officially accepted his nomination last night at the Democratic National Convention, he invoked Milk’s name:

The USNS Harvey Milk will become the second ship to be named after a civil rights leader, and is reportedly of the John Lewis-class, named for sitting House of Representatives progressive John Lewis.

According to USNI, other names in the class “include former Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren whose court ruled to desegregate U.S. schools, former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, women’s rights activist Lucy Stone and abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth.”

This has been reposted from New Civil Rights Movement.