Five years after the removal of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and allowance of openly gay, lesbian and bisexual service members, the Navy plans to name a ship after veteran and gay-rights activist Harvey Milk. For his friends, activists and San Francisco legislators, it’s been a long-awaited move.
Three years after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors—in which the late Milk served during his lifetime—passed a resolution for secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to name a ship after Milk, assassinated in 1978, Mabus informed Congress that a fleet oiler will inherit the name USNS Harvey Milk. On Thursday, USNI News reported that the notification came on July 14. The New York Times reports that a Navy official confirmed the notification on Friday.
The fleet oiler named after Milk will sail under the Military Sealift Command, which provides ocean transport to the Department of Defense. The ship joins the John Lewis class of vessels, per UNSI News, which get their names from civil-rights leaders.
Milk served in the Navy from 1951 to 1955, according to the New York Times. He was a diving officer during the Korean War, honorably discharged from his work in San Diego. The military banned service by gay, lesbian and bisexual people throughout Milk’s service, and the New York Times cites Milk as becoming the first openly gay official in a major U.S. city following his service.
According to the New York Times, Milk received many death threats during his lifetime. Milk was fatally shot by a political opponent alongside Mayor George Moscone in 1978, less than a year after his election to the Board of Supervisors. Since then, Milk has been the subject of things like books, movies, an opera and a postage stamp.