San Francisco Debates Request to Name Navy Ship for Harvey Milk

Officials in San Francisco are debating a resolution supporting a proposal to name a Navy ship for slain gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk, the SF Chronicle reports:

MilkCritics of the idea, led by Supervisor Christina Olague and a contingent from the San Francisco gay Democrat club named in Milk's honor, don't think he would have wanted his name associated with a military ship.

Milk was "against the Vietnam War and war in general," Olague said of Milk, who was gunned down at City Hall in 1978 by disgruntled former colleague Dan White. A more fitting tribute would be to get a national holiday named in Milk's honor, she said.

San Diego Rep. Bob Filner, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, has asked the Navy to christen a ship the USS Harvey Milk, and San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener authored a nonbinding resolution urging support.

What having the ship might mean, according to a vet:

Zoe Dunning, a lesbian and retired Navy commander, testified in favor of Wiener's legislation, noting that naming a ship after Milk would have global reach. Every time the ship pulls into a port of call, there would be Milk's name emblazoned on the exterior, and the sailors and officers assigned to the ship would wear his name on a uniform patch, she said.


  1. Bob R says

    For those who don’t think a warship should be named after Harvey Milk, there are alternatives. The Navy has a variety of ships that perform different functions from command and supply ships to deep sea rescue and diver support ships. A deep sea rescue vessel might be more appropriate since Milk was a Navy diver, if the “warship” concern is a major stumbling block.

  2. David Hearn says

    Here’s an idea: Since we liken our cause to that of blacks, let’s not make the same mistakes they have made. In the case of memorials, let’s not name everything after one or two guys. Harvey Milk has his place in gay history, but it’s not necessarily on the side of a ship.

    Moreover while the military is called to subordinate itself to the civilian government, they are not without their own feelings and positions. They are already bitching about a munitions ship named for Cesar Chavez because of the perception that he was affiliated with international socialists and therefore disloyal to America. Let’s not toss them another. Surely we can push to name a ship for a gay man or woman with a distinguished military career.

    USS Margaret Cammermeyer

  3. andrew says

    This navy vet looks forward to the day when the USS John Stennis (Aircraft carrier named after a former racists and segregationist senator from Mississippi)and the USS Harvey Milk are on operations together.

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