Sean Penn to Join Push for ‘Harvey Milk Day’ in California

Last October, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation authored by Assemblyman Mark Leno that would have recognized May 22 as "Harvey Milk Day" in the state. The California senate approved the measure along party lines (with not one Republican vote) in August. Tomorrow, Leno will propose it again, this time with Oscar winner Sean Penn by his side:

"Tomorrow, Leno will try again with Senate Bill 572, and this time he's
appealing with Schwarzenegger's Hollywood side by tapping Sean Penn,
who just won the Best Actor Academy Award for his title role in 'Milk.'
Leno and Penn will appear at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Tosca Cafe (242
Columbus) and will be joined by Assembly member Tom Ammiano, Geoff Kors
of Equality California, activist Cleve Jones (a character in Milk and
consultant to the film), and Milk's nephew Stuart Milk."


  1. Paul R says

    I’m all for a day celebrating Harvey Milk, but Tosca Cafe seems like an odd place to reintroduce this bill. It’s a bar in North Beach (San Francisco) where rich people and celebrities hang out. It’s convenient for Penn and the other attendees (who live in the Bay area), but wouldn’t it make more sense to introduce legislation in Sacramento? Am I missing something? If they just want to do it in San Francisco, wouldn’t the Castro be more appropriate?

    That said, I’ve always wished they’d move the seat of California government out of Sacramento. But that will never happen.

  2. John in CA says

    Sacramento is the de jure capital. But its influence has waned over the years. The Legislature’s still there. And much of the bureaucracy’s still there. But the other branches of government have been moving around for a while.

    The California Supreme Court packed their bags and high-tailed it to San Francisco’s Civic Center decades ago. They haven’t been back since.

    The Governator (following the example of his predecessor Gray Davis) flies down to his beloved Los Angeles every Thursday for a four day weekend. That’s why you get those press conferences where the seal in the back says “Office of the Governor, Los Angeles.” No, that isn’t a typo. He’s at the Los Angeles office.

  3. Paul R says

    Marc, I can assure you that Mark Leno is trying to give you your rights. He was the sponsor of legislation for same-sex marriage, not the one who vetoed it twice. Now it’s up to the CA supreme court, which as John notes is (thankfully) in San Francisco. Indeed, if it weren’t there’s a decent chance that the court never would have approved same sex marriage last spring, as at least one justice said it was the sight of gays getting married in 2004 (within view of their offices) that made him change his mind on the issue.

    Which is why, John, I want Sacramento’s power to wane even more. And it would make protesting so much more convenient, which is really what it’s all about. The drive to Sacramento is as dull as the city itself.

  4. Marc says

    Oh I agree about Mark Leno. I’ve met him personally when I was living in SF and I think he’s a good man. I even like Mr Penn. And I’ve always respected and admired Harvey Milk!

    I’m simply saying that I want to see some anger from our supporters for our rights. I want more than just “a day”. I want to see action and change and I’m not waiting any longer for it.

    These are the breadcrumbs we keep bending over for and to me, this is no longer enough. This will easily become another sacrificial pawn on the chessboard that is given to us to distract us from the Bishop who is lining up to take our King and I have had enough of it!

  5. Paul R says

    Marc, I definitely understand your point, and I harbor no illusions that having a Milk day will do much for anyone over the age of, say, 18. But it could raise awareness among teens, straight or gay, who don’t know who he is.

    It wouldn’t be a huge victory, just a needed bit of symbolism. California, like the federal government, has days and months celebrating just about everything you can imagine—whether Cesar Chavez or avocados. Yes they’re crumbs, but at the moment there’s not much more that Leno et al can do. If you want action, participate in the various vigils being held Wednesday night in myriad cities, before the CA supreme court starts discussing Prop 8 on Thursday. I fully expect Market Street traffic in SF to be entirely screwed for hours, just as we got screwed in November. I’m a pessimist by nature and doubt that the protests will sway the justices, but it might–and it might also foment more community unity and activism in general. Never a bad thing.

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