A U.S. Navy ship named after slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk was christened by a transgender female Navy veteran this weekend.
What are the details?
Milk — who served with the Navy in the Korean War — became the first openly gay elected official in California, winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated a year later by former city supervisor Dan White.
Paula Neira — a Navy veteran and the clinical program director at the Center for Transgender Health at Johns Hopkins University — christened the ship Saturday in San Diego, National Public Radio reported.
The Navy ordered Neira's name corrected on discharge paperwork — a first for a transgender Navy veteran, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“I christen thee Harvey Milk,” Neira said before smashing the traditional bottle of champagne. “May God bless the ship and all who sail in her.”
Neira and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sponsored the ship, NPR said.
More from the outlet:
Naming the ship after an icon of the LGBTQ rights movement represents a symbolic milestone for the military following a long history in which gay service members were unable to serve openly. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said it helps right the wrongs of the past and shows a commitment to current and future LGBTQ service members. It's estimated that
100,000 veterans have been discharged from military service because of their sexual orientation.
“Leaders like Harvey Milk taught us that diversity of backgrounds and experiences help contribute to the strength and resolve of our nation,” Del Toro
said, according to NPR. “There is no doubt that the future Sailors aboard this ship will be inspired by Milk's life and legacy.”
Stuart Milk — Milk's nephew and cofounder of the Harvey Milk Foundation — told the outlet that the Navy gave documents to the Milk family outlining Harvey Milk's discharge and that it was “less than honorable.” While Stuart Milk added to NPR that the Navy asked him about posthumously reversing his uncle's dishonorable discharge, he said he nixed the idea as a reminder that not everyone was treated with honor.
White committed suicide in October 1985 — apparently it was carbon monoxide poisoning — a year after he was paroled for his voluntary manslaughter sentence in connection with the deaths of White and Moscone.
Here's a look back:
Harvey Milk, George Moscone assassinated in SF: November 27, 1978
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