Harvey Milk honored with naval ship in his name

U.S. Navy officials Tuesday are naming a naval ship after former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk at a ceremony on Treasure Island.

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will announce at the ceremony that the second in a new generation of fleet replenishment oilers will be named USNS Harvey Milk.

Milk, a naval veteran and civil rights activist, became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S. when he was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1977.

Milk was fatally shot, along with Mayor George Moscone, by Supervisor Dan White at City Hall on Nov. 27, 1978.

The ship will be one of six in its class, all of which will be named after civil and human rights leaders. The first in the series will be named after U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights leader representing Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District.

Stuart Milk, Harvey Milk’s nephew and co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation, said that his uncle believed that “open authenticity” and visibility would help change the lives of people in the LGBT community:

“It was his belief in the power of that visibility which gave him the courage to face those bullets that he both anticipated and would ultimately take his life.”

Naming a ship after Harvey Milk will help spread the message that the country is strengthened, not weakened, by diversity, Stuart Milk said.

“The USNS Harvey Milk will inspire our nation’s brave service men and women to reach their full potential proudly and unmasked,” Stuart Milk said.

Today’s 2 p.m. ceremony was expected to be attended by officials including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Ed Lee, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, members of Milk’s family and others who knew and worked with him.