Tag Archives: Harvey Milk Day

OFA-California launches “pride” campaign to energize LGBT voters

Roughly coinciding with Harvey Milk Day and still basking in the glow of President Obama’s full evolution on marriage equality, the Obama re-election campaign in California, in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, launched Obama Pride in Los Angeles earlier this week. From the release:

Today, Obama for America-California and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP) hosted the official launch of Obama Pride: LGBT Americans for Obama in Los Angeles at the home of LACDP Chair and California Democratic Party Vice Chair Eric C. Bauman and his husband Michael Andraychak, coinciding with Harvey Milk Day as part of the national Obama Pride launch.

In a living room packed with LGBT community leaders and couples from all walks of life, the Obama Pride launch featured a coffee discussion on the President’s accomplishments for the LGBT community, the impact of the President’s policies on their personal lives, and the challenges in the 2012 election.

“President Obama is the first President to fully embrace all rights for LGBT Americans, from opposing discrimination in employment to supporting marriage equality.  In our community, talk about promises kept by the President: ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is no more; for the first time, federal civil rights law recognizes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected class with the Matthew Shepard and James Bird Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; for the first time in history, a President of the United States supports marriage equality.  LGBT Americans has seen more progress under President Obama than any other time in U.S. history.  And we stand with President Barack Obama in 2012,” said Eric C. Bauman, LACDP Chair.

Karen Ocamb at Frontiers Magazine has a recap of the day’s events, reactions from Obama’s supporters in the LGBT community, and the challenges that still await the re-election campaign.

Needless to say, it’s amazing what can happen when politicians aren’t afraid to demonstrate the courage of their convictions. It’s actually motivating!

Governor Schwarzenegger and First Lady Shriver induct Harvey Milk into California Hall of Fame

They say history is written by the victors. Well, tonight we should all feel victorious as Harvey Milk is inducted into the California Hall of Fame.

I am thrilled to be going, not to watch history being made, but to watch a history finally start to be written that includes LGBT people, their lives, their stories and their achievements.

Harvey’s nephew Stuart Milk will attend the ceremony on behalf of his uncle, along with family members of Mayor George Moscone, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and Senator Mark Leno. The Hall of Fame exhibit at the California Museum will be toured by scores of California students who will finally get in touch with a key piece of LGBT history. Also, one of the winners of this year’s California Dreamers Challenge, a scholarship for high school students, will be announced tonight who is a gay youth who was inspired by Harvey Milk.

EQCA worked hard to pass a bill in 2009 creating Harvey Milk Day in California to commemorate Milk’s legacy across California and in our schools, but we still need you to help make it happen. Leading up to the first official Harvey Milk Day on May 22, 2010, EQCA plans to work with local groups and educators to develop educational materials and plan appropriate commemorative events across the state (May 21 and 22 in San Francisco, May 22 in Los Angeles and May 23 in Palm Springs). Every child should grow up knowing they are valuable.

Watch out for our organizing kit, prepare to attend one of our events across the state, and start talking to people you know about why Milk’s legacy matters.

Last Friday was the 31st anniversary of Milk’s assassination, so I feel it especially poignant that Harvey should be so honored today. This has indeed been a remarkable year for Harvey.

Last month we honored Stuart Milk at our San Diego Equality Awards for his work around the world spreading Harvey’s message of hope, the hit film Milk won two Oscars, Harvey was posthumously awarded the Presidential of Freedom by President Obama, and the Governor signed the legislation authored by Sen. Mark Leno and sponsored by EQCA officially establishing Harvey Milk Day in our state.

California has always led the way forward, which is why it was so important for our state to take a stand and honor an LGBT hero with a day of special significance. Equality California pushed hard for this legislation, using all the tools at our disposal to make the case. I’d like to thank the nearly 40,000 EQCA members who sent emails to the Governor urging him to sign, the thousands who made phone calls or Tweeted, and the countless others who spread the word to their friends and family. This couldn’t have happened without your dedicated action!

I’d also like to thank our state legislature who passed Harvey Milk Day and 14 other pro-LGBT bills this year and Governor Schwarzenegger for signing into law the first official day ever recognizing an openly LGBT figure. EQCA knows from experience that supporting equality is a winning strategy for elected officials.

This victory is significant because it’s a message to future generations. This is when we stop erasing LGBT people and their achievements from the history books. Thanks to the support and advocacy of EQCA members California has among the most comprehensive protections for students and youth in the world. The anti-LGBT industry would like to take it all away. After all, LGBT minors make easy targets, and schools are the best places to go after them. They have no choice but to be there.

We need to be there for our community’s youth, which is why we need Harvey Milk Day, Safe Schools legislation, anti-bullying and nondiscrimination protections, and comprehensive curriculums which teach the value of all students, as well as the cost of violence.

In anti-marriage ballot campaigns across the country we’ve seen the other side exploit fears about their children becoming gay in order to trick voters into taking our rights away. We need to stand up and make it absolutely clear that there’s nothing wrong with children learning about LGBT people in school.

Alice Kessler is the Government Affairs Director for Equality California. www.eqca.org.  

Arnold Signs Harvey Milk Day and Out of State Marriages Bill

Sen. Mark Leno has a diverse legislative platform, from single payer health care to fighting against toxics in our homes.  However, it is for his work for marriage equality that he has built his name in San Francisco and Sacramento.

Today, the Senator bags two more achievements. First, after getting a veto from the governor last year, the state will now declare May 22 Harvey Milk Day (not a day-off though).  The recognition for a man who was dedicated to pushing for equal rights for himself and his community is an important marker for the fight for full equality for the LGBT community. It does not win us any additional rights, but it does give the state a chance to pause and reflect on a man who gave everything for the struggle.

On the other hand, Sen. Leno’s SB 54 does have an immediate and real impact that goes beyond symbolism. The bill would grant marriages performed outside of the state before Prop 8 was passed full marriage status, just as the same-sex marriages performed between June and November. Marriages that were performed after that Nov. 5 date will get all the rights and benefits of a California marriage save the moniker “marriage.”

Apparently Arnold saw the confusion brought about by the situation that Californians who had previously been married in, say Massachusetts, were in. They were told that they didn’t need to renew their marriage, but the law was entirely unclear on the issue.

In a signing message, Schwarzenegger said California will not recognize the couples as married but will “provide the same legal protections that would otherwise be available to couples that enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships out-of-state. In short, this measure honors the will of the People in enacting Proposition 8 while providing important protections to those unions legally entered into in other states.” (SacBee 10/12/09)

Expect SB 54 to be challenged by at least some of the right-wingers. There’s not much of a substantive legal argument against these measures given the case law as it stands, but that’s never stopped them before.

UPDATE: I forgot to point out that Arnold vetoed two transgendered focused bills, but Pam caught it. The vetoed bills would have made birth certificate records easier to handle and allowed for special protection of transgendered prisoners.