Will San Francisco name airport after slain gay icon Harvey Milk?

6:57 PM, Jan 15, 2013   |    comments
  • Harvey Milk, as San Francisco Supervisor, sits in front of his San Francisco camera shop in 1977. (AP file)
  • A pedestrian stops to look at a plane parked at the terminal at San Francisco International Airport on August 24, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
    
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SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- "Boarding for Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport."

Civil rights activist Stuart Milk can imagine the impact of that airport announcement on the scared young people he's met in the United Arab Emirates and other countries around the world, where gay people live in fear for their lives.

Stuart Milk's uncle Harvey Milk, a San Francisco supervisor, was one of the first openly gay politicians in the United States when he and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were killed by former supervisor Dan White at City Hall in 1978.

"San Francisco has 9 million international passengers and about 40 million passengers total passing through annually, and (this name change) sends an important message of societal change," said Stuart Milk, co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation.

The name change could become a reality if a San Francisco lawmaker has his way.

David Campos, an openly gay Latino member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, plans to introduce legislation Tuesday to make naming the city's airport after Milk possible.

The supervisor sees the likelihood of U.S. Supreme Court rulings later this year on cases getting at "the core of whether or not members of the LGBT community will have equal treatment under the law" as a prime time to initiate the tribute to Milk.

"It's appropriate for San Francisco at this time to recognize that members of the LGBT community are equal members of our society and to recognize the work of this hero. It sends a clear message of hope and civil rights, not just here but abroad," Campos said.

Campos needs the support of six of the 11 Board of Supervisors members to get his charter amendment placed on the November ballot.

Veteran political consultant Alex Clemens expects Campos to get those six votes and predicts a spirited debate leading up to the November election.

"Renaming our airport would provoke an international conversation, as some of the places in the world that are less evolved on LGBT issues would suddenly have 'Harvey Milk' as part of their daily -- or hourly! -- conversation patterns," Clemens wrote in an e-mail.

"And, of course, flights between Harvey Milk International Airport and Reagan National Airport would be joyous for those travelers who prefer their flights laden with as much irony as possible."

The introduction of this amendment by Campos puts San Francisco back in the spotlight "as a beacon of hope" throughout the United States and the world, said Stuart Milk.

(CNN)

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