Should the Navy name a ship after Harvey Milk?

photo by Dan Nicoletta

A Democratic Congressional rep. from San Diego thinks so.Rep. Bob Filner has asked the Secretary of the Navy, who has final say over such things, to name a warship the "U.S.S. Harvey Milk." Milk served in the Navy during the Korean War. And Sup. Scott Wiener has introduced a resolution in support of the concept.

His press release:

Supervisor Wiener, who represents Milk’s old district on the Board of Supervisors, expressed excitement at the prospect of the christening:  “Harvey Milk was a visionary in our community and redefined what it means to be LGBT in public life.  Given Supervisor Milk’s extraordinary public service and military service to our country, I can think of no more fitting tribute than to name a naval vessel after him.” Retired Navy Commander Zoe Dunning, a leader in the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, agreed:  "Harvey Milk was proud of his Navy service. Similar to the USS Cesar Chavez, there should be a USS Harvey Milk to honor Milk’s leadership in the LGBT civil rights movement.” Anne Kronenberg, who served as one of Supervisor Milk’s legislative aides and who now serves as San Francisco’s Director of Emergency Management, noted that Milk would be smiling to hear about the effort to christen a ship in his name: “Harvey understood the importance of symbolism in the advancement of civil rights.  He also lived in an era when being out in the military was simply impossible. He’d be quite pleased that we are now in an era when not only can LGBT people be out in the military, but they can even have warships named after them. Times truly have changed.”

My friend and colleague Sandy Lange, who is the Guardian's controller, agrees. Sandy was an officer in the Navy, and loved it, and got kicked out after the Naval Investigative Service followed her to a lesbian bar, long before even Don't Ask, Don't Tell. "This would be a great statement, to finally kick homophobia off the waves," she told me.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca, who is also my friend, isn't so sure. In a piece on Open Salon, he argues that Milk would be opposed to today's military adventurism and that a warship isn't a fitting memorial:

It’s one thing that gays can serve openly in the military. It’s another to attach the name of a queer progressive who opposed war to a military ship. It's just not appropriate. It's like naming a Christian church after him (Milk was a Jew and an atheist). Or a bomber plane after Gandhi.
What's next? Recruitment ads in the gay newspapers featuring the Village People and/or hunky half-naked men? A pink heart medal for killing with a gay flair? A lavender box with a rainbow flag for our gay and lesbian corpses?  

Marke B., our managing editor, just wants to be sure that he's involved in the interior design of the new ship, and that its sailors "open their legs for fleet week."

Seriously -- Avicolli Mecca thinks a better honor would be to make Milk's birthday, May 22, a national holiday. Of course, Chavez (also a man of peace) has both a ship and a holiday.

I never met Harvey Milk -- I arrived in San Francisco in 1981 -- but I have to wonder what he'd think about a ship of war carrying his name.




Mabus is the Secretary of the Navy. The congressman who wants to do this is Bob Filner (who if it matters is running for Mayor of San Diego this November).

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

Let's be very clear here..

If Harvey Milk were alive today to see the U.S military and its wars over oil and global power taking up more than half of the Federal budget, bombing the hell out of millions of innocent people, and here at home causing the deep cutting of local budgets and supports for everything from badly needed social services to transit, there is no way on god's green Earth he would want a Navy warship named after him.

Posted by Eric Brooks on May. 02, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

damn. right.

well put, thank you.

Posted by brandi on May. 02, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

Where do you get your information that wars take up half the federal budget? That is false.

Posted by The Commish on May. 03, 2012 @ 10:29 am
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Posted by danish ship finance on Nov. 16, 2012 @ 10:55 pm

I confused the two names. Thanks, I fixed it.

Posted by tim on May. 02, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

And Sup. Scott Wiener has introduced a resolution
And Sup. Scott Wiener has introduced a resolution
And Sup. Scott Wiener has introduced a resolution
And Sup. Scott Wiener has introduced a resolution
And Sup. Scott Wiener has introduced a resolution
And Sup. Scott Wiener has introduced a resolution
And Sup. Scott Wiener has introduced a resolution
And Sup. Scott Wiener has introduced a resolution
And Sup. Scott Wiener has introduced a resolution
And Sup. Scott Wiener has introduced a resolution
And Sup. Scott Wiener has introduced a resolution

Does this guy ever stop, shut up and sit down?

JFC, every time I read something this Wiener's name is in the article having "introduced a resolution." Yet another resolution. Another resolution. He's really running for mayor to keep his name out there. I suspect many people will fall for his antics and gush over their "boy wonder." This is just purely symbolic bull shit, just like much of what Wiener comes up with to give the *appearance* he's doing something.

From what I know about Milk, Wiener is no Harvey Milk. He's the opposite of Harvey Milk but I'm not at all surprised he's trying to exploit Milk's name just like some businesses in the Castro do. How many in the Castro ever remember (or care about) Harvey Milk these days? Most are too busy texting and partying, while others are throwing up on the sidewalk in front of Lime and other puke-fest dumps. Don't we need a resolution against puking on the sidewalk Wiener?

This is the same conservative supervisor who campaigned for anti-homeless sit-lie. Something Milk opposed in his day. I remember the conservatives were writing the most hateful posts in favor of sit-lie during that campaign. This is the same supervisor who came up with Sit-Lie 2, that new law for the Warner and Milk plazas, again, against the homeless and street people. He's also the same conservative supervisor who voted for legislation to allow the SFPD/FBI to spy on SF residents. He works for the 1%.

I read that Wiener was recently named "interim mayor" while Mayor Pak-Brown-Lee was on a trip. One would think that the Board President, David Chiu, would have been "interim mayor" especially since he's the Board President and has been on the Board longer. Who's dick did Wiener have to suck to be "interim mayor?"

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

Actually they rotate the interim mayor thing but your theory says a lot about where you are coming from.

Posted by Troll on May. 02, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

If "they rotate the interim mayor thing," why was there a need to appoint interim mayor Pak-Brown-Lee? Why didn't the supervisors themselves continue to rotate through the mayoral position until the election? After all, it's not as if they do a whole lot. It's not like it would overwork them too much. A few extra cocktails here and there at campaign fund raisers replete with Norwegian prawns, caviar, quail's eggs in cut glass finger bowls at varies gatherings of the 1%, a few extra parties to go through here and there and a few extra puffs of something. They ought to be able to handle that. No big deal.

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

Okay, you're right. When the Mayor is out of town they don't rotate Supervisors in as Interim Mayor. Thanks for sharing your intelligence with us.

Posted by Troll on May. 02, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

allowed to deputize for Willie after he pulled that stunt of making appointments that had not been approved.

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

"Unapproved?" No. Daly's appointments to fill long-vacant commission seats was approved handily by the BOS if I recall correctly. Willie had had ample time to fill those seats with members capable of surviving the BOS approval process before Daly finally acted.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 03, 2012 @ 9:55 am

acted inappropriately, which is why he was denied privilegeds and opportunities thereafter - he won the battle but thereby lost the war.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2012 @ 10:13 am

Whenever the mayor leaves the state (I believe), he or she has the power to choose whichever supervisor he or she wants to serve as interim mayor. It is usually done as a nicety to a supervisor that the mayor "trusts". (I talked to Wiener about it when he was appointed.)

Nowadays, the interim mayor does not have as much authority as Chris Daly did during that appointment controversy. (Brown made sure of that.)

Posted by Common Sense SF on May. 04, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

Short-term and selfish thinking always comes back to bite ya.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 04, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

Acting mayor, idiots.

Interim Mayor is the one appointed by the Board of Supervisors when the Mayor's office is vacant.

Acting Mayor is the one that the Mayor appoints when s/he is out of State.

Posted by marcos on May. 04, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

Name a hospital ship for him.

Posted by Rick Galbreath on May. 02, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

As an anti-war Navy Vet, I would agree your opinion as a great compromise, which meets in the middle with those being for and against this issue of naming a ship after him..

Posted by richard stone on May. 02, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

Harvey was proud of his service. Hell, he wore a Military belt buckle everyday of his life he was so proud.

Posted by NIBY Jones on May. 02, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

Roy Cohen or David Schine.

Posted by Matlock on May. 03, 2012 @ 12:04 am

(... and I'm being polite today)
I find it despicable that he uses every possible opportunity to 'assosciate' himself with Harvey. The vast majority of his positions, resolutions etc, are generally in opposition to everything that Harvey fought and died for. SHAMELESS.
Excellent suggestion Rick, a Hospital Ship, but a Warship!!

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on May. 07, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

I spoke to Tommi about this for the KPFA Evening News last Saturday, 05.05.2012, The USNS Harvey Milk, made by General Dynamics???

Rhe KPFA Morning Mix broadcast his editorial yesterday, 05.07.2012. This morning I posted both to Indybay with a few pics:
"Don't ask, don't tell, don't even consider naming a battleship after Harvey Milk!"

Posted by Guest Ann Garrison on May. 08, 2012 @ 8:15 am