Recently, I introduced legislation to add Harvey Milk’s name to San Francisco International Airport and call it Harvey Milk SFO. My goal would not just be to “honor” him, but to move forward the civil-rights agenda for which he lived and died.
Milk wasn’t just one of America’s first openly gay elected officials. He was — and still is — an inspiration for all individuals who are bullied, discriminated against and abused. “You have to give them hope” is how Harvey said it. And that’s as true today as it was 35 years ago.
Marriage equality is at a national tipping point in the United States. California’s own Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, is in the hands of an extremely conservative Supreme Court. Across the globe, being gay is against the law in 77 countries. I believe it’s the perfect moment for San Francisco to make our airport a beacon of hope by adding Milk’s name.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, former Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Supervisor Scott Wiener and many others agree. Already, four of my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors — Wiener, John Avalos, Eric Mar and Jane Kim — have become co-sponsors. To succeed, we will need six votes on the board and then a majority vote by the people of San Francisco.
Of course, there are those who oppose the idea. The bigots who say, “If you name it Harvey Milk, I’ll fly out of Oakland,” are easy to dismiss. Then there are those people who raise the legitimate concern that there are other San Franciscans who deserve the honor. And to them we say that adding Milk’s name to the airport doesn’t negate the accomplishments of any other individual. This is not about pitting one community against another.
While the San Francisco Chronicle may belittle this effort as “the bad idea of the week,” we should not scoff at the notion that San Francisco ought to be acting with national and international LGBT rights in mind. Whether you believe that airports should be named after individuals or not, the fact is that there are more than 80 airports named after people in the United States alone. Not one is named after an openly LGBT person. I believe it’s time.
And if not here in San Francisco, then where?
Supervisor David Campos represents District 9.