City Council votes YES on Harvey Milk StreetEditorial Monday, May 7th, 2012
BY WILLIAM RODRIGUEZ-KENNEDY
The San Diego City Council unanimously approved changing the name of Blaine Avenue in the historically LGBT neighborhood of Hillcrest to Harvey Milk Street. The name change will honor the late civil rights activist, who was the first openly gay elected official in the United States.
San Diego is the first city in the U.S. to honor Milk with by naming a street after him. Already, there are schools and various community centers named after Milk.
City commissioner and chairman of the Harvey Milk GLBT Historic Task Force of San Diego County, Nicole Murray Ramirez, told LGBT Weekly, “This victory was eight years in the making. We had tried to name Centre Street in front of the Center … but we dropped it because of opposition.”
Blaine Avenue, the street whose name will be replaced, is located two blocks from Cleveland Avenue near the San Diego LGBT Community Center.
During the public comment section of the Council meeting only one person, James Hartline, spoke against the motion. Several high-profile LGBT-community leaders spoke or were in attendance during the historic city council meeting, including Dwayne Crenshaw, executive director of San Diego LGBT Pride; Susan Jester, cofounder of AIDS Walk in San Diego and former president of the San Diego chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans; Stampp Corbin, San
Diego LGBT Weekly publisher and former co-chair for LGBT issues of the Obama for America Campaign of 2008; as well as ACLU and San Diego Pride Board Member Stephen Whitburn.
The motion to approve the project was made by openly gay Councilman Todd Gloria who represents District 3 where the street will be located. The motion was seconded by Councilman Carl DeMaio, who is also gay and who represents District 5. DeMaio is currently a leading candidate for mayor of San Diego.
Councilwoman Lori Zapf accidentally voted against the measure but quickly corrected her vote. Council President Tony Young allowed the Council to vote a second time so Zapf could be recorded as having voted in favor of the name change. “I am so sorry I have just received a text that a friend of mine had passed and I am a little shaken up,” the councilwoman said to her colleagues and members of the public. Previouisly, Zapf had been criticized for anti-LGBT emails sent to LGBT-equality opponent and activist, James Hartline during her campaign for city council in 2010. Zapf has since changed her position and become friendly to policies supporting LGBT-equality.
An unveiling ceremony marking the name change is scheduled for May 22 at 5 p.m. to also commemorate Harvey Milk’s birthday.In addition to forwarding the cause of equal rights for LGBT San Franciscans, Californians and Americans, Milk famously fought and beat a ballot initiative that would have barred gays, lesbians and bisexual people from teaching in California’s public schools.
Harvey Milk was a member of the San Francisco City and County Board of Supervisors. He was was assassinated along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone November 27, 1978. The assassin, Dan White was also a member of the Board of Supervisors – but one who had resigned days before killing Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Milk. White was acquitted of murdering the two officials by using what became known as the “Twinkie Defense” (temporary insanity due to overconsumption of high-sugar junk food).
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