Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady Maria Shriver will induct the late gay activist Harvey Milk into the California Hall of Fame on Dec. 1.
The honor follows Milk’s receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama on Aug. 12.
Schwarzenegger’s move is surprising given that he vetoed a bill last year to make Milk’s birthday a “day of special significance” in California schools, saying in his veto message that Milk mostly was relevant only in San Francisco.
“I respect the author’s intent to designate May 22 as ‘Harvey Milk Day’ and a day of special significance for California public schools and educational institutions to honor Harvey Milk as an important community leader and public official in the city and county of San Francisco,” Schwarzenegger wrote last year. “However, I believe his contributions should continue to be recognized at the local level by those who were most impacted by his contributions.”
State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, reintroduced the Harvey Milk Day bill this year. It has passed the Senate and awaits action in the Assembly before again landing on Schwarzenegger’s desk.
Milk settled in San Francisco’s Castro district in 1972 and opened a camera store. He went on to pioneer a populist gay rights movement in the city and, in 1977, was elected to the Board of Supervisors, becoming the fourth openly gay American elected to public office.
He and Mayor George Moscone were shot to death inside City Hall on Nov. 27, 1978, by then-recently resigned city Supervisor Dan White, who was angry that Moscone wouldn’t let him un-resign and that Milk had lobbied Moscone not to reappoint White. White’s lenient sentence for the killings (seven years and eight months with parole) led to the famed White Night Riots in San Francisco on May 21, 1979.