Milk: Gay Politico Harvey Milk–Local or National Hero?

Should there be a “Harvey Milk” Day akin to other holidays that commemorate significant politicians who have lost their lives while in office?

After winning a second Best Actor Oscar for his role in the biopic “Milk,” Sean Penn, who plays the first openly gay man elected to office, has joined a campaign  to get the state of California to officially recognize Harvey Milk’s birthday on May 22.

Penn will appear at a news conference today in San Francisco with state Senator Mark Leno, who’s announcing plans to reintroduce a bill designating Milk’s birthday a “Day of Significance,” encouraging schools to conduct commemorative exercises on Milk’s life and contributions.

“Given California’s fiscal crisis, the bill was written to have no cost to the state, and state workers and school employees would not get the day off from work,” Leno said.

Activist Cleve Jones, one of the few survivors of the era, who is a key character in Gus Van Sant’s “Milk” and served as consultant to Dustin Lance Black’s screenplay, is also scheduled to appear at the news conference, as are Assembly member Tom Ammiano, Geoff Kors of Equality California and Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk.

Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the same bill last year, introduced by Leno as an Assembly member. The governor said at the time that Milk should be honored in San Francisco but not statewide.