The Hon. David Chiu
President, Board of Supervisors
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
Dear President Chiu:
The Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club writes to support the resolution by Supervisor Scott Wiener to have the San Francisco Board of Supervisors go on record in support of Congressman Bob Filner, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, and his request that U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus officially christen a Navy ship after former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk.
First, any naming of a military vessel is an honor bestowed to only a select group of highly regarded leaders. We note that few residents of San Francisco have received this honor and this would be the first time a former member of the Board of Supervisors has been honored.
Second, Harvey Milk’s legacy goes beyond just our City’s borders. His pioneering efforts changed the course of history for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBT) community through his proud openness about who he was. He foreshadowed the many open public profiles of professionals, activists, students, politicians, and now, even, thankfully, men and women in the military. He and his story have had an impact on the entire world and become a beacon of hope for us all.
Third, Harvey Milk was a proud Naval officer. He was open and proud of his service in the military. He never hid from his full self; he embraced his history of military leadership which included honorable service for the United States during the Korean War.
Fourth, LGBT men and women around the country have led extraordinary careers in the U.S. military since the beginning of this nation. Thankfully, now that President Barack Obama has signed the repeal of the unfortunate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law which had the discriminatory effect of forcing these men and women from stating their sexual orientation, we are finally able to have these openly LGBT men and women become fully articulated as their full selves, letting everyone know about their service in the Navy, Air Force, Marines, Army, Coast Guard and affiliated uniformed services.
This is another historic first for the LGBT community. It defines Harvey Milk’s legacy for the entire world as an openly proud gay man who served in the military. The Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club is in full solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters in the military. We can tell his story, and that of all LGBT military persons, to a broad audience of those who will bear witness to the naming of a Navy ship in his honor. We also can showcase the proud military history of our LGBT community members, even while they served under the most oppressive and discriminatory of laws which have only recently been removed.
We in the LGBT community are proud Americans. While there are many times when we as a community, just as all individuals and all communities, have differences of opinion on policy, progress, laws; we still salute our quest for democratic ideals and peace through our nation. Further, we salute the brave men and women, LGBT and straight, who give their all on a daily basis for this nation and its ideals.
We applaud the efforts to salute Harvey Milk and his legacy with this naming honor, as well as other efforts to support and highlight our community and our proud heritage in local, state, and national honors. The Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic club thanks Supervisor Scott Wiener and those co-signatories for this historic resolution at the Board and welcome its passage with great urgency. Thank you for your attention and consideration.
Martha Knutzen & Reese Aaron Isbell
Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club
cc: Board of Supervisors