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One of these John Lewis-class oilers will soon be named USNS Harvey Milk

Navy Honours For Harvey Milk

01 August 2016
By Alan Frank - QL USA

Over in the USA LGBT activists campaigned for the country's navy to honour Harvey Milk and other LGBT individuals who have served in the armed forces despite being officially banned until 2011.

Their campaign succeeded and the the United States navy will name a ship after gay rights icon Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the USA.

The July 14, 2016 notification, signed by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, indicated he intended to name a planned Military Sealift Command fleet oiler USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO-206). The ship would be the second of the John Lewis-class oilers currently being built in San Diego.

Milk served as a diving officer from 1951 to 1955. He was honorably discharged with the rank of lieutenant junior grade.

“When Harvey Milk served in the military, he couldn’t tell anyone who he truly was,” said San Francisco supervisor Scott Wiener, who authored a resolution asking the navy to name a ship after Milk in 2012. “Now our country is telling the men and women who serve, and the entire world, that we honour and support people for who they are.”

Milk moved to San Francisco in 1972, where he lived in the Castro district, owned a camera shop, and advocated for the rights of LGBT people in the growing gay neighborhood.

In 1977, he won his election to the San Francisco board of supervisors, becoming the first openly gay elected official in California.

One year later, Milk was killed in San Francisco city hall by a former supervisor who also killed the mayor, George Moscone.

“Hope is never silent and will be represented in a world port soon via the USNS Harvey Milk,” read a post on the Facebook page of the Harvey Milk Foundation, reacting to the announcement.

Other ships in the John Lewis-class of fleet oilers will be named after former supreme court chief justice Earl Warren, Robert F Kennedy, women’s rights activist Lucy Stone, and Sojourner Truth. The John Lewis class is named for civil rights legend and congressman John Lewis of Georgia.

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