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Campos wants Harvey Milk’s name on SFO
Updated 10:44 pm, Monday, January 14, 2013
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Supervisor Harvey Milk, who was fatally shot in 1978, “has become an international symbol of civil rights,” says Supervisor David Campos, who wants to name the S.F. airport after him. Photo: File, AP
A San Francisco supervisor wants to rename the city’s airport in honor of civil rights leader Harvey Milk, a change supporters said would send a global message about the importance and struggles of gays and lesbians for equality.
Supervisor David Campos will introduce legislation Tuesday that would place the proposal to rename San Francisco International Airport as Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport before voters in November. To send the name change to voters, Campos needs the support of five other supervisors, and Monday he already had four co-sponsors.
Campos said about 80 other U.S. airports are already named for individuals, none of whom are gay, and that SFO – which moves 40 million passengers annually, including 9 million international travelers – has a particularly high profile. He believes it would cost between $50,000 and $250,000 to implement, citing the cost other cities have incurred to do the same, but said he hopes to attract private donations to fund the change.
‘An international symbol’
Milk was a San Francisco supervisor when he and Mayor George Moscone were shot and killed by Dan White, a former supervisor, at City Hall on Nov. 27, 1978. He was one of the first openly gay people elected in the United States, and “has become an international symbol of civil rights, not just LGBT rights,” Campos said.
“There are already a number of things honoring Harvey Milk, including schools, but nothing of this national and international scale,” said Campos, who is gay. “It’s time to send a message that members of the LGBT community are treated with dignity and respect. … In places all over the world, including Europe and Asia, people of all walks of life look up to Harvey Milk.”
Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the same area that Milk did and is also gay, immediately signed on as a co-sponsor of Campos’ proposal, saying Milk “is the most important figure in the history of the LGBT community, and he played such a critical role in modern San Francisco politics.”
“It would be very fitting to name the airport after Harvey Milk,” Wiener said, but added that it will probably “spark a robust conversation about the various people who have made significant contributions to San Francisco.
“To be clear, there are other people who (also) merit consideration,” he added. “San Francisco has always been at the forefront of the fight for LGBT equality, and so people come here from around the country and around the world because of that, and for 40 million people a year to land at Harvey Milk International Airport sends an incredible message to the world.”
Family on board
The timing is also important, Campos said, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court is considering several gay rights cases, including whether California’s passage of Proposition 8 banning gay marriage was legal.
Campos – who represents neighborhoods including the Mission District and Bernal Heights and is expected to run for state Assembly in 2016 – has also received the blessing of Milk’s family and the Harvey Milk Foundation.
Stuart Milk, Harvey’s nephew who co-founded the nonprofit, said he hopes to see a “groundswell of support” for a move he said will have “huge, huge implications” worldwide.
“When you think of the 9 million international visitors, coming from many of the 77 countries where it’s still illegal to be LGBT – people forget that there are still 77 countries where it’s criminal to be who you are,” he said. “To be in Dubai, and see on the board a flight that ends at Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport, or to be a young Pakistani, in a country where it is illegal to be gay, look up and see the name of a gay icon and feel, ‘I am not alone’ – it resonates back to my uncle and the calls he got from places like Altoona, Pa., when he was elected.”
A lasting statement
Harvey Milk has received a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, had a statewide day of recognition named for him in California, has been the subject of a major motion picture and multiple documentaries, and has four schools named after him. But this could have an even broader and more lasting educational effect, Stuart Milk said, because unlike a change in law that can be undone, it would illustrate a change in societal thinking.
The airport, he said, “is a global entry point to North America, and with this we are saying, ‘We are including everyone.’ … It shows what a global community we have become and how we are teaching equality.”
Marisa Lagos is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: email@example.com
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Campos-wants-Harvey-Milk-s-name-on-SFO-4194091.php#ixzz2I2nh7tkt