Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rallies Honoring Harvey Milk Today Mark Push for Gay Rights

Today is the 80 birthday of civil rights activist & first openly gay politician Harvey Milk...

The gay-rights movement today will observe what would have been the 80th birthday of Harvey Milk -- the nation's first openly gay politician -- with rallies and other events in Chicago and 25 other cities across the country. Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He fought to end discrimination against gays and lesbians but was killed a year later by a former supervisor, Dan White.

Activists will gather at 1 p.m. in Grant Park at Congress and will march north on Michigan, organizers say. The Milk events come as gay-rights advocates are pressuring Congress to pass a bill that ends job discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Advocates are also lobbying Congress to include a repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell'' policy in a spending bill a House committee took up Wednesday.  Robin McGehee, co-founder of GetEQUAL, one of the groups leading the rallies, says that despite gains since Milk served, gays and lesbians still lack full equality. "Thirty-two years later, sadly, we still wait,'' she says.

The fate of the efforts remains up in the air. Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says she wants to pass both bills. But he would not say whether either has the votes needed to pass. Many legislators dealing with tough re-election campaigns are hesitant to back the bills, says Paul Yandura, a political consultant who works on gay-rights issues. And Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis at the conservative American Family Association, accused gay-rights activists of trying to steamroll unpopular legislation through Congress. He said they are using Harvey Milk Day to "force acceptance of homosexual behavior.''

Source: Chicago Sun Times

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