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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 29, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 31
Navy to name ship after Gay rights activist Harvey Milk
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Navy to name ship after Gay rights activist Harvey Milk

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

The Navy is set to name a ship after the Gay rights icon and San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, according to a congressional notification sent out July 14.

The notification, signed by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, says he will name a planned Military Sealift Command fleet oiler USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO-206). The ship would be the second of the John Lewis-class oilers being built by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, Calif.

For now, the Secretary of the Navy's office is deferring releasing additional information until the naming announcement.

Mabus has said the John Lewis class - named after civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) - would be named after civil rights leaders. Other names in the class include Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, whose court ruled to desegregate US schools; Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy; women's right activist Lucy Stone; and abolitionist and women's rights activist Sojourner Truth.

Mabus has also named ships in the past for other civil rights icons, including the Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ships USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE-13) and USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE-14).

Milk came from a Navy family and was commissioned in the service in 1951. He served as a diving officer in San Diego during the Korean War on the submarine rescue ship Kittiwake until 1955. Milk was honorably discharged from the service as a lieutenant junior grade. Following his service, Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and was the first openly Gay California politician to be elected to office. He was assassinated in office in 1978. When Milk was shot, he was wearing his US Navy diver's belt buckle.

Over the last several years, since the 2011 repeal of the Department of Defense's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, there have been pushes from California politicians to have a ship named for Milk.

Naming a ship after Milk 'will further send a green light to all the brave men and women who serve our nation that honesty, acceptance, and authenticity are held up among the highest ideals of our military,' said Milk's nephew Stuart Milk in a statement to San Diego LGBT Weekly in 2012.

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