San Francisco Lawmaker to Propose Naming City’s Airport for Slain Gay Rights Activist Harvey Milk

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos is proposing a charter amendment which would put the question of creating Harvey Milk-San Francisco International Airport on November's ballot, the AP reports:

MilkIf five of Campos’ colleagues agree to submit the proposed name change to voters and the amendment goes through in the fall, the city would become home to the world’s first airport honoring an openly gay person, said Milk’s nephew, Stuart Milk.

Milk, who runs an international gay rights foundation in his uncle’s memory, said that adding an airport to the list of public venues named for Harvey Milk would mark a milestone since flights to and from San Francisco International serve 68 countries where homosexuality is illegal.

No airport in the country has ever been named for an out LGBT person. The amendment could be voted on within two weeks.


  1. says

    San Diego and San Francisco members of their City Council have nothing else to do other then name landmarks after Harvey Milk. Too often the gay community seems to forget that Mayor Moscone was elected San Francisco’s Mayor 2 years before Harvey became Supervisor, and gave the Gay Rights movement movement! They seem to forget that George Moscone was also killed on November 27th,1978. I always felt that George should of shared the Honor of Harvey Milk Day. Harvey has a Library and Plaza named after him where he was known as “The Mayor of Castro Street”. I believe S.F. airport should be named after George Moscone who was the Mayor of San Francisco!

  2. chasmader says

    I’d rather seen SFO named for Dianne Fienstein, or if we really wanted to give credit to person most responsible for it’s current form, that would be Willie Brown.

  3. Paul says

    Jerry, all of the convention centers in downtown SF are named after Moscone. Considering the absolutely massive conventions we have here on a seemingly monthly basis (okay that’s dramatic but as a proud resident of the City I feel as if this were true), Moscone’s name gets used much more by visitors than those residents who primarily utilize the Milk library (in the Castro) and Harvey Milk Plaza (which is just another name for the Castro MUNI station).

  4. Jason says

    Also, one of the new subway stations on the sub-terranean T-Third line (near the convention center) will be named “Moscone.” That will really lead to a lot of people considering the Yerba Buena area of SOMA a sub-neighborhood named “Moscone.”

  5. ratbastard says

    Why not name it San Francisco International Airport, so as not to confuse visitors? Just a thought. But I’m sure a place like S.F. has many notables who are deserving of the honor, yes?

    *sarcasm off*


    Old man Bush has Houston’s airport named after him, and he’s still alive if not kicking.

  6. jpeckjr says

    My appreciation for Harvey Milk is boundless, but I think this is a terrible idea. The current name works just fine – San Francisco International Airport. However, if the Supervisors insist on renaming it for an LGBT hero, how about Martin-Lyon San Francisco International Airport after Del Martin and Phyliss Lyon, San Franciscans whose decades of consistent advocacy, without ever being elected to office, are significant and underhonored.

    Not to be too cynical, but I wonder if fundraising for the foundation Stuart Milk runs in his uncle’s memory is down and a little publicity might be helpful?

  7. Zlick says

    I don’t think the name change, if it happened, would gain popular acceptance. Few people would refer to the only airport in San Francisco as Milk airport – in the same way that Kennedy and LaGuardia are used in New York to differentiate between two.

    So who cares if if happens? It would be nice, and not change much. And with all due respect to the memory of Mr. Moscone, he is not a nationally known figure on the scale of Harvey Milk.

  8. Red says

    Well, SFO will definitely remain, as that’s the IATA code and that won’t change even if the official name does.

    I think this would be nice from a symbolic point of view. The very large majority of people don’t actually refer to most airports by their names unless they’re very well-known and sometimes to differentiate between multiple airports in the same city, which would not be the case here. So, it wouldn’t mean much to most people, but it would be, again, symbolic.

  9. says

    Sadly, in their own announcement of this proposal, no less than the statewide organization, Equality California, is incomprehensibly repeating the myth that Harvey was the first openly gay man elected to office in the entire country not just California. For those still similarly confused:

    The first was Allan Spear, reelected to the Minnesota State Senate in November 1976 after coming out during his first term in office in 1974. For those unaware, he was also the first out gay leader of a state legislature [not CA’s John Perez as some have claimed] serving as the Senate’s President from 1992-2000. In all, he was there 28 years, and led the successful fight for Spear was instrumental in passing the 1993 Minnesota Human Rights Act, the first state law to include both sexual orientation and gender identity in protection from discrimination employment, education, public accommodation, and housing.

    The second was Jim Yeadon, elected to the Madison, Wisconsin, City Council, April 1977. He’d been chosen by other council members to fill a vacancy in October of 1976, but didn’t win the seat by public vote until the following April.

    That November, Harvey was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

    But, for those similarly unaware, it was out lesbians who led the way:
    Kathy Kozachenko was elected to the Ann Arbor, Michigan, City Council on April 1, 1974, and Elaine Noble was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives on November 5, 1974. Her running as an out gay person was what inspired Spear to come out.

  10. M says

    First, I hate airports that don’t include their location in the name. It’s confusing.

    Second, Supervisor Campos’ little spiel about how a young gay Pakistani will learn that he isn’t alone and Milk’s nephew’s reference to Altoona, PA bastardized what Harvey Milk said. He said we need to elect gay people because seeing gay people in positions of power is empowering, or as he put it, “And then one day that child might open the paper that says ‘Homosexual elected in San Francisco’ and there are two new options. The option is to go to California, or stay in San Antonio and fight.” No one bothers to research the person the airport is named after. Who is LaGuardia? I grew up in Houston and have no idea who William P Hobby is, even though I always fly in and out of that airport when visiting family. I will likely never look these people up because I don’t really care. Naming an airport after someone is in no way similar to electing gay people. Misusing Milk’s most famous speech is offensive to me.

    I think this is a dumb idea. But of course, it has a good chance of going through because opposing it will be criticized as “anti-gay.”

  11. gr8guya says

    Not every airport needs to be named after someone. But, in this case, it will lead to some awkward conversations:

    “I am coming into Harvey Milk.”

    “I am getting off at Harvey Milk.”

    “Harvey Milk is all backed up.”

  12. M says

    Just to add to my previous post, I wouldn’t be opposed to this if they do something like Austin’s airport, which is Austin-Bergstrom International.

    I still think the explanation about gays from oppressive countries learning they are not alone is silly and completely misappropriates the spirit of Milk’s speech. That framing attempts to make it a gay rights issue, which is done to prevent criticism. If they want to name the airport after him because Milk is important and they just want to honor him, they they should just say so. But if they want to honor him, please at least keep the name of the city in the official title. San Francisco-Harvey Milk International. Or even just SF-Harvey Milk International. Let’s not sacrifice the place for the person.

  13. says

    I knew George and Harvey as friends. The great progress in the Gay Rights movement began under Mayor Moscone. His first appointment was Harvey Milk.George was a true friend of the gay communities and often took part in fund raisers, or spoke at the Golden Gate Businessman’s Association and participated in the Gay Community Softball League’s events. Had George lived, he surely would of became Governor or U.S, Senator. Remember, Diane Feinstein ran for Mayor twice and came in 3rd both times. Not taking away from Harvey, had it not been for the Academy Award winning Documentary, and Milk Movie… Harvey would not be as popular as he is now. I am no fan of his nephew. He’s been able to travel the world. There are many of us pioneers who were part of the early S.F. Gay Rights Movement. It’s the 21st Century and we need leaders, gay and straight to help us one day get the Equal Rights we are due… no more,no less, just equal rights!

  14. Icebloo says

    I think it’s a great idea. Harvey gave his life for a cause in which he believed. He deserves to be remembered. He was an extremely brave and intelligent man and I am proud that he was on our side. We need more like him !

  15. Walt says

    A ridiculous idea. Bob Hope Airport, John Wayne Airport – what did they have to do with aviation? Nothing, as did Harvey Milk.

  16. David Hearne says

    I oppose this. I like airports named for the city or region they serve, but more practically you need to consider that if SF names its airport for Harvey Milk, you might not like who Oakland names their airport for.

  17. Bill says

    At the risk of getting in trouble for being a wise guy, how about naming the three domestic terminals (Terminal 1, Terminal 2, and Terminal 3) after George Moscone, Harvey Milk, and Diane Feinstein?

    Maybe give Willie Brown the International Terminal so he won’t feel slighted. Besides, if California became its own country and we made Willie our U.N. ambassador, in less than 2 years we’d achieve world domination due to Willie’s political skills!

    Let’s not forget Nancy Pelosi either. With everything else taken, we can name the BART station after her.