California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have instated a statewide “Harvey Milk Day” in honor of the homosexual rights hero and encouraged public schools to observe the day by conducting “exercises remembering and recognizing” his life.
The vetoed bill AB 2567 was proposed by Assemblyman Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat. It would have set May 22, Milk’s birthday, as “a day of special significance” and required the governor to proclaim Harvey Milk Day on May 22 every year, the California Catholic Daily reports.
“This bill would put California on record as recognizing the social contributions that Harvey Milk made to our nation as a civil rights leader,” Leno explained in a legislative analyst’s review of the bill. “It would also allow schools to conduct activities that would foster respect for all, and educate students about an important figure who is often omitted from history lessons."
In 1977 Milk won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly homosexual man elected to an important political office in the United States.
The following year, he and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by another Supervisor, Dan White.
Gov. Schwarzenegger explained his veto in a message to the California Assembly, saying:
“I respect the author’s intent to designate May 22nd 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. However, I believe his contributions should continue to be recognized at the local level by those who were most impacted by his contributions. For this reason, I am unable to sign this bill.”