Harvey Milk airport petition takes off

After a San Francisco Supervisor proposed San Francisco International Airport be renamed in honor of Harvey Milk, an online petition campaign is now gaining momentum.

Introduced by Supervisor David Campos, the airport name would be changed to the Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport in honor of the slain gay-rights activist who was a supervisor in 1978.

Campos’ legislative aide Nate Allbee told SFBay that Campos proposed the idea to Harvey Milk’s nephew, Stuart Milk — a human rights advocate and founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation.

Allbee said that the initiative needs the support of at least six supervisors before it can be added on the November ballot. So far, he said there are at least five supervisors who have shown support for it.

Before the Supervisors vote on the bill, the Rules Committee will review the measure within a month and make a recommendation to approve it or not to the board. The committee needs to review the measure because it will be an amendment to the city’s charter.

Stuart Milk took to advocating for the final push of one more supervisor by beginning a petition on the website change.org. The website allows for anyone to sign the petition, with a goal of at least 25,000 signatures. Once it reaches the goal of signatures, the petition will be delivered to the Board of Supervisors.

So far, the petition has more than 17,500 signatures. Petitioners from around the world have signed it, voicing their support for the initiative.

Daniel Nicoletta, a photographer and friend of Harvey Milk’s who worked on several of his campaigns, is one that left a note on the website in support of the initiative:

“Harvey Milk gave his heart and soul to making San Francisco a safe place for all, there is no better candidate for this honorific.”

Stuart Milk writes in the petition that his uncle continues to inspire lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to run for public office in the US and beyond:

“Adding my uncle’s name to SFO will strengthen this beacon of hope, not only for LGBT people but for all those who have been marginalized, diminished or faced discrimination for being different.”

Other airports in the United States are named after well-known people (in California, the Burbank Bob Hope Airport or the John Wayne Airport), but not one is named after an openly gay leader.

Allbee said even if the name was be changed, its airport code will remain as “SFO.”

The name change is estimated to cost between $50,000 and $250,000. Allbee said while the city may foot the bill, Campos’ office has talked about having a portion of it paid for through private funding.

Harvey Milk won his election for a seat on the Board of Supervisors in 1977 and was the first openly gay man to be voted into public office. Mayor George Moscone and Milk were assassinated by former Supervisor Dan White on Nov. 27, 1978.