A U.S. Navy ship is set to be named after Harvey Milk, a pioneering LGBT rights activist who became the first openly gay person elected into public office in California in 1977.
A notification signed by Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, said he intended to name a Military Sealift Command fleet oiler USNS Harvey Milk.
Until 1994, gay people were banned from the serving in the U.S. armed forces. That year the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy was put in place until 2011, meaning that gay people could serve, as long as their sexuality was hidden. The ban on openly transgender people serving ended June 2016.
“This is an incredible day for the LGBT community and for our country,” Scott Wiener, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, said. “As a gay man and a San Franciscan, I’m incredibly proud that the Navy is honoring Harvey Milk – and the entire LGBT community – by naming a ship after him. When Harvey Milk served in the military, he couldn’t tell anyone who he truly was. Now our country is telling the men and women who serve, and the entire world, that we honor and support people for who they are.”
One group, however, was not pleased with the decision.
Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins said that Milk led a “less-than-honorable life,” because he was gay.
FRC’s Peter Sprigg said that Milk “is famous only for winning one election, being murdered – and having sex with men.”
Milk served on the submarine rescue ship USS Kittiwake from 1951 to 1955 and was honorably discharged as a lieutenant junior grade. He won the election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the 1970s and was assassinated with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone at city hall by former Supervisor Dan White on Nov. 27, 1978.
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