Harvey Milk — renowned capitalist?

It’s not about the camera shop: Iconic gay-rights activist Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978, is shown above in 1973 in front of his camera shop on Castro Street in San Francisco.

The Sacramento Bee’s website reports that today the California Senate passed, by 24-14, a bill to create a day of recognition for slain gay-rights activist Harvey Milk in the state. The bill now goes to the state Assembly.

The Bee reports that only one Repugnican state senator, Abel Maldonado, voted for the bill.

In explaining his vote, Maldonado rather bizarrely stated of Milk, “To me, he was a man who was a capitalist, and an entrepreneur who happened to be gay.”

Yes, Milk was a small business owner, and yes, according to Randy Shilts’ biography of Milk, The Mayor of Castro Street, Milk detested governmental interference with small business owners.

But Shilts’ biography of Milk also makes it pretty clear that Milk’s fight for gay rights was far more important to Milk than was his small camera shop on Castro Street, of which, Shilts writes, Milk actually was fairly neglectful.

Does Milk have to be emphasized as a fucking capitalist instead of as a gay-rights activist in order to get Repugnican recognition?

It’s a bad thing that a gay man was shot to death (probably at least in part just for being gay) because he was a capitalist? What if a socialist gay man were shot to death just for being gay? 

Anyway, the Bee notes that “Last year, the Milk bill made it through the Legislature, but was vetoed by [Repugnican] Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said it would be more appropriate to honor Milk on a local level.”


Harvey Milk Day would be on May 22, Milk’s birthday, and it would not be a formal state holiday (that is, a paid day off for state employees), so it wouldn’t cost the state taxpayers much, if anything. It would be a day of voluntary recognition — schools would not be required to recognize the day — and if the Assembly passes the Milk Day bill that the Senate just passed (and I expect the Assembly to do so, since it did so last year), Schwarzenegger has no valid reason to veto Milk Day again.

As I wrote about earlier today, Repugnicans tried to block a day honoring Martin Luther King Jr., too.

The Repugnicans are always on the wrong side of social justice and social progress — and always are on the side of prejudice, bigotry, hatred and ignorance.

We will get a Harvey Milk Day in California, and perhaps one day in the nation, too — but not under the “leadership” of the tiny-tent Repugnicans.

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