[UPDATED with Janet Nguyen M.I.A.:] Harvey Milk Day Idea Draws Crickets from OC Board of Supervisors

UPDATE, MAY 10, 7:11 P.M.: Activists seeking an Orange County Board of Supervisors proclamation recognizing slain gay icon and San Francisco County Supervisor Harvey Milk's May 22 birthday received slightly more than the sound of crickets we predicted earlier today.

"It was great!" Linda May of the Harvey Milk Celebration Committee told me afterward. ". . . The supervisors were polite and attentive, for the most part."

There was one glaring exception.

For reasons unexplained, Supervisor Janet Nguyen left the room.

"That is often interpreted as an avoidance tactic, but since there was no vote taken, it is hard to imagine what she was avoiding other than hearing heartfelt discussions about lesbians, gays, and transgender people," May said.

Perhaps Nguyen feared catching the gay. Or the Glee.

Because it was not an agenda item--committee members had to wait until the public comments section near the end of the meeting--supervisors warned they could not weigh in on the proposal. But committee members have been calling and leaving messages since last month to get on the agenda so supervisors could speak on it.

Speaking of speaking, Chairman Bill Campbell would not extend a 20-minute time limit given to any one topic. Since there were 13 speakers on Harvey Milk Day, Campbell instructed the clerk to give each one 1.5 minutes instead of the usual 3 minutes each, May reports.

"Most of the speakers were new at speaking in that forum and Supervisor Campbell was polite about that," she added. "I just wish we hadn't felt so rushed."

Fortunately for the committee, it did not lose its star speaker: openly gay Huntington Beach City Councilman Joe Shaw. There were fears he'd have to leave for a ribbon cutting in Surf City before he got to the mic.

Still, if I was Shaw and Nguyen showed up to seek Huntington Beach City Council approval of some pet project of hers, I'd extend her the same courtesy she did by walking out on her sorry ass.

ORIGINAL POST, MAY 10, 11:15 A.M.: Backers of special recognition of slain San Francisco county supervisor and gay icon Harvey Milk's May 22 birthday began contacting Orange County supervisors in April.

The response: crickets.

So, with no place on the Orange County Board of Supervisors' agenda, activists planned to attend today's regular meeting in Santa Ana, wait until near the end of the session for the public comments period and propose before the world a local Harvey Milk Day.

Expected response: crickets.

Ah, well, anyone who followed Milk's amazing career knows crickets never stopped him from accomplishing so much more than a day in his own honor.

Orange County's Harvey Milk Celebration Committee approached a politician of much smaller stature, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Bill Campbell, with a sample proclamation and information on the historic importance of Harvey Milk.

"I don't think he is prejudiced against gay people," organizer Minerva Figueroa says in an email.  "I think he is just afraid of what other people will think."

With or without the official blessing of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, a Harvey Milk Day celebration will he held Friday, May 20, at French Plaza in downtown Santa Ana. A pre-show begins at 5 p.m., the main event starts at 7 p.m. and birthday cake will be shared at 8:30 p.m. The committee claims 24 organizations and businesses are sponsoring the event.

Milk deserves the recognition because of his "bravery and honesty as he championed the rights of the elderly, small businesses, ethnic communities, and a growing gay community," states the email. "His life has increasingly become an example of the importance of hope and visibility for lesbian, gay, transgender, and all who struggle for equality and human rights."

The first openly gay person elected to office in a major American city, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated at San Francisco City Hall in 1978 by fellow Supervisor Dan White. The conservative White was later convicted of manslaughter instead of murder through what became known as "the Twinkie defense." He served five years in prison before returning to San Francisco, where he committed suicide in 1985. 

During Milk's career, he tangled with another conservative, Orange County's own John V. Briggs, who in 1978 sponsored Proposition 6, which would have prevented gays or those who supported gay rights from working in public schools.  "Most of them are in the closet," the state legislator said of gay teachers, "and frankly, that's where I think they should remain."

The voter initiative was opposed by everyone from Ronald Reagan to Jimmy Carter, has been credited for fueling the creation of the Log Cabin Republicans and ultimately went down in defeat.

In a testament to Milk (and Briggs, actually), the two became friends before the San Francisco County supervisor was taken from us. So there you go, OC Board of Stoops, a local hook!


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