US Navy names ship in honour of gay activist Harvey Milk


Harvey Milk Boulevard
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The US Navy has finally given the seal of approval for a ship to be named after veteran and gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk.

The oil tanker, USNS Harvey Milk, will sail under the Military Sealift Command, which provides ocean transport to the Department of Defence.

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Milk served on the submarine rescue ship USS Kittiwake from 1951 to 1955 when he was a diving officer during the Korean War.

He was honourably discharged at lieutenant junior grade.

Milk moved to San Francisco in the 1970s and was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California.

He was assassinated alongside San Francisco Mayor George Moscone at the city hall in 1978.

In 2012, Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk said the move would send “a green light to all the brave men and women who serve our nation: that honesty and authenticity are held up among the highest ideals of of nation’s military”.

San Francisco politician Scott Wiener, who called for a ship to be named after Milk, said it was an “incredible day”.

“When Harvey Milk served in the military, he couldn’t tell anyone who he truly was,” he wrote.

“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.”

But some critics said Milk would have disapproved of lending his name to a Navy ship, given his opposition to the Vietnam War at the time.

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