First Harvey Milk Day celebrated in Los Angeles

A rally at the federal building and Father Serra Park downtown was just one of the events held across Los Angeles today as part of the first annual Harvey Milk Day.

The holiday honors what would have been the 80th birthday of Milk, who was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 and became the first openly gay man to serve in California politics. He was assassinated 11 months later.

The march downtown followed the tradition of Milk’s political activism, including a speech delivered by megaphone and atop a soapbox. It was aimed at expressing “one single demand”: equal protection under the law in all 50 states, a spokesperson said.

LAist reports that other celebrations included an official gathering at Madame Tussauds including Milk’s nephew.  There was also a door-to-door campaign for marriage equality in East Los Angeles, a picnic in Brentwood and a fundraiser hosted by the Osbourne family. In West Hollywood, Mayor Pro Tempore John Duran introduced an anti-bullying project designed to protect LGBT students.

Last year, Governor Arnold Schwarzennegger signed a bill declaring May 22 Harvey Milk Day.  A petition asking him to do so received 50,000 signatures from Californians.

But not all Californians have taken as enthusiastically to the new holiday.  Kern County’s school board voted not to recognize it.

In Los Angeles, though Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa more than endorsed the event. He wrote a blog on The Huffington Post celebrating Milk, and asking Angelenos to join in on what he declared the Harvey Milk Day of Service, including a clean-up of the Vermont Square Community Garden.

March 4th Day of Action map

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