Barack Obama | Billie Jean King | Harvey Milk | News | Ted Kennedy

Harvey Milk to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom


Harvey Milk's nephew Stuart Milk, will accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony on August 12, according to the Victory Fund.

Said Stuart: "The President’s action today touches the core of our very human hearts and my uncle would be so proud of this high honor.  His election was, for him, a beginning–a chance to make real change. That change is happening, but we still have so far to go. I hope this recognition inspires LGBT Americans everywhere to heed Harvey’s call to run for office, to serve openly, to live proudly with authenticity and to demand the equality that we all deserve."

Billie Jean King will receive the medal on the same day. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor, recognizing individuals responsible for "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

Said Obama: "These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds.  Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs.  Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change.  Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way. Their relentless devotion to breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens sets a standard to which we all should strive.  It is my great honor to award them the Medal of Freedom."

Additional recipients this year are Ted Kennedy, Nancy Goodman Brinker, Pedro Jose Greer, Jr., Jack Kemp, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Joe Medicine Crow, Sandra Day O'Connor, Sidney Poitier, Chita Rivera, Mary Robinson, Janet Davidson Rowley,Desmond Tutu, and Muhammad Yunus.

More about the recipients here.

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  1. No disrespect to the great Harvey Milk intended but this announcement sounds like Marie Antoinette: "Let them eat cake".

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jul 30, 2009 12:11:11 PM

  2. More tokenism from The Fierce Advocate as his political machine blunts efforts to roll back DADT. God, what a bunch of fucking idiots they take us for. Sad thing is, they're probably right.

    Posted by: MikeMick | Jul 30, 2009 12:17:11 PM

  3. I wonder what Harvey Milk would say to such tokens if he were alive?

    Posted by: Jason Young | Jul 30, 2009 12:32:01 PM

  4. How nice of President Obama to give the medal of Freedom to two people who he does not consider to be worthy of equal protection under the law of the United States of America.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Jul 30, 2009 12:37:49 PM

  5. How many gay people will fall for this one? I dislike this president more and more with every action he takes to appease us. Ugh.

    Posted by: Cyd | Jul 30, 2009 12:38:46 PM

  6. Great! That should keep us all satisfied for another year or two, right?

    Posted by: Pope Buck I | Jul 30, 2009 12:43:09 PM

  7. Get a grip, people. Shall we ask the White House to please not mention us at all unless or until they can persuade Congressional leaders to wave magic wands and pass all the LGBT legislation we want?

    Grow up. Last month Obama said we should judge him by his actions, and that by the end of his term we will be happy with his administration. So I'm not sure why some commenters here are treating today's news as though this is the end of his action on LGBT issues.

    Harvey Milk's legacy is one of action, not bitching. Live up to it.

    Posted by: Bill | Jul 30, 2009 12:57:53 PM

  8. Here, have this medal, commemorative plaque, and glazed ham.

    Now, go away and stop pestering me about your "civil rights."

    Posted by: John | Jul 30, 2009 12:58:02 PM

  9. Where is Lt. Choi's medal?

    Posted by: JMDRWAC | Jul 30, 2009 1:06:19 PM

  10. I find it a very moving honor for Harvey Milk's memory no matter what other struggles we all still face.

    Posted by: ichabod | Jul 30, 2009 1:12:47 PM

  11. It's unfortunate that the homophobic closet case Jack Kemp is being honored alongside Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King.

    Posted by: wisebear | Jul 30, 2009 1:20:46 PM

  12. Apparently some folks just can't feel good about anything anymore.

    Posted by: HomoDM | Jul 30, 2009 1:23:32 PM

  13. Yes Bill, but Harvey Milk never rationalized away bullshit homophobic policies the first time a shiny object was flashed in front of his face.

    The fact that this news comes so close to the news that Obama is actively blocking attempts to neuter DADT tells you exactly what he thinks of us... A bunch of superficial queens, easily distracted and politically worthless. He values the opinions of racist hicks above our own, and there's no rationalizing that away.

    Posted by: Griff | Jul 30, 2009 1:26:23 PM

  14. I hate to be the pessimist here, but I can't help but think that this is just like the Federal benefits Obama "heroically" and "thoughtfully" extended to gay couples last month...

    ... except he extended those benefits only because a) it wouldn't really hurt him, b) it wouldn't really *change* anything, and c) he had to do something to get the gays off his back (this last one he even admitted to!).

    When I look at the names of the people on this list, it's clear that Milk's is one of those who's inclusion is suspect. He's also one of possibly two who have been dead for well over two decades - I just can't see people getting riled up in honoring a historical figure who's long dead and gone, even if that person was a gay rights leader.

    When Obama starts giving out Medals of Freedom to the gay activities who are still alive and kicking, then I'll actually pay attention. Otherwise, this just smacks fo pandering.

    Posted by: Tommy | Jul 30, 2009 1:27:46 PM

  15. Tommy, Billie Jean King is alive and she's also getting the medal of freedom.

    Griff, it's very hard to argue with people who seem to believe dismantling years of anti-LGBT laws and regulations takes nothing more than one election and the wave of a presidential hand. It's simply not that easy because we live in a Democracy, where lawmaking is ugly up close.

    To imply that lack of immediate action on our entire agenda is the same as secretly hating us is beyond immature.

    Only dumbasses will be totally satisfied with Obama's commitment to LGBT equality BASED SOLELY ON THIS ANNOUNCEMENT. Smarter people who understand politics and governing will see it for what it is--a historic and meaningful gesture. But people who work day and night for LGBT equality will not stop to piss on this...they'll keep calling and writing their representatives in Congress, which is the only way any progress is going to be made.

    Posted by: Bill | Jul 30, 2009 1:48:07 PM

  16. Gosh!! there's some really bitter queens on here!! Give Obama a chance to prove himself! I bet this are the same queens that are still supporting Madonna's music even though she didn't do SHIT for US during Prop 8- Don't understand why this blog keeps talking about this CUNT

    Posted by: Steven | Jul 30, 2009 1:49:34 PM

  17. He's obviously taking baby steps to test the waters and assess the response. As he continues to do more things like this, I expect the significance of his LGBT-related actions to increase. Giving two of these widely publicized medals to two very well-known gays is not such a tiny thing. It's not going to change the world, but it may change some opinions.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 30, 2009 1:51:26 PM

  18. Jack Kemp! Never heard that one before. Harvey is rolling over and over right now.

    Posted by: anon | Jul 30, 2009 1:53:30 PM

  19. Bill what a sad, stupid man you are...willing to sit by for next 3 years while our Liar-in-Chief throws us crumbs & gives medals to dead men, all the time he continues to support Don't Ask Don' Tell and works to deny us our rights. Of course he's gonna say "oh just be patient...". It's just one more lie. One you're apparently gullible enough to believe.

    The last 2 years of his Presidency will be re-election mode...and nothing of any significance will get done. Why do you think he's trying to move so quickly on Healthcare & the economy...things he actually CARES about & intends to change. He has zero intention to do anything about GLBT rights. You're just not smart enough to see it.

    Posted by: JSH | Jul 30, 2009 2:00:33 PM

  20. Bill,

    With all due respect given to her, I don't see Billie Jean King as the sort of figurehead for whom a Medal of Freedom is going to turn heads.

    Inspirational? Sure.
    Groundbreaking? Absolutely.
    A stand-up American, gay or straight? Without question.

    On-part with the Cleve Joneses of the world? Eh....

    Posted by: Tommy | Jul 30, 2009 2:10:18 PM

  21. @JSH
    Right on. Bill and his ilk have their heads so far up their asses they can taste their breakfast twice. It isn't that Obama hasn't put us at the forefront of his agenda -- only myopic dipsticks expected that. It's that he has actually thumbed us in the eye with Rick Warren, the DOMA brief, and his inaction on Choi and Fehrenbach, claiming fealty to the law and the legislative process. Maybe Bill is the kind of demure queer who sits quietly while he gets the shit beat out of him, but there are a lot of us who would rather fight back. Oh yeah, isn't that what Harvey Milk did?

    Posted by: MikeMick | Jul 30, 2009 2:12:34 PM

  22. Yes, that's what Harvey Milk did, Mikemick. But he fought back by getting elected and then he worked the legislative system to introduce and pass SF's first gay rights ordinance.

    In other words, he backed up his wishing and hoping and bitching with ACTUAL POLITICAL ACTION. Which is more than most people who blame Obama all day do.

    Stop waiting for your congressional representatives to like you and start making it politically unwise for them not to. That's when change will happen.

    And no, you can't accomplish that by posting comments on blogs all day.

    Posted by: Bill | Jul 30, 2009 2:31:49 PM

  23. @ Bill
    How do you know I'm not doing those things AND posting on this blog, genius? Thanks for taking time from your Mensa meeting to enlighten us.

    Posted by: MikeMick | Jul 30, 2009 2:42:57 PM

  24. I hope Stuart Milk uses the occsion to protest Obama's intransigence.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 30, 2009 2:54:08 PM

  25. E-mail this article to CA's Governor, he's holding on signing the "Harvey Milk Day" honor. In case you weren't aware he veteod it last time, stating that no one outside of SF knew who he was.

    Posted by: SSD | Jul 30, 2009 2:58:22 PM

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