The United States Naval Institute reported Thursday that the Navy will name a ship after iconic gay rights activist Harvey Milk.
Within just a few years, we will be able to gaze upon the Military Sealift Command fleet oiler USNS Harvey Milk, which is pretty excellent.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus notified Congress back on July 14 that he will name a fleet oiler for Milk, but the Navy hasn’t officially announced the decision yet. but this will be the first such ship to honor an openly LGBTQ person. The ship will reportedly travel all around the world and claim a crew of around 95 people.
San Franciscan politician Harvey Milk, one of our most celebrated gay-rights icons, was an ensign in the U.S. Navy during the Korean war. He served from 1951 to 1955, when he was discharged at the rank of junior lieutenant. In May 2012, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, of which Milk was a member, urged Mabus to recognize Milk and to christen a ship as the U.S.S. Harvey Milk.
“Supervisor Milk, in light of his role as a community leader, trailblazer, visionary elected official, and Navy veteran, fits such a role perfectly on his own behalf and on behalf of the LGBT community,” the board writes in its resolution.
Since Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was abolished in 2011, the military has taken a series of steps toward more inclusiveness of the LGBTQ community. Last month, the Navy Department encouraged any former LGBTQ members wrongfully forced out of the service due to their sexual orientation to seek redress with the Board of Corrections for Naval Records, which has the power to appeal such charges.
The news about the late Milk — who was assassinated on November 27, 1978 along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone — was met with praise by San Francisco politicians.
“We are making real progress in an institution that has historically tended to be homophobic,” San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Naming a ship after our great LGBT leader speaks volumes about where this country is and where this president is,” he said.
Milk’s name made its way to a national audience for another reason this week. At the Democratic National Convention during Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine’s speech, the Virginia Senator included him when listing off civil rights leaders.
“Harvey gave his life,” Kaine said.
Photos via General Dynamics, United States Navy