Harvey Milk Essay
Harvey Bernard Milk was an American politician who is known for being the first man to be elected to a public office while being openly gay (Scruggs). He was born in the year 1930 May 22 and was murdered on November 27, 1978. Up until this time, he made a name as a San Francisco civil rights activist who largely helped campaign for the rights of homosexuals hence opening up the American society to gay and lesbian issues (Milk Foundation). However, this was not the only field he dealt with but as a human rights visionary, he championed improvement of education, housing, child care and public transportation.
He started off his numerous professions by joining the Navy in 1951 from which he was honorably discharged in 1955 in the rank of junior lieutenant (Milk Foundation). He then took up a teaching job in a high school and afterwards did finance jobs. All this time he was not in the public limelight until a 1970 protest of Cambodian invasion by America where he publicly burned his BankAmericard. He was then dismissed from his job after which he tried in vain to vie for public office in the Board of Supervisors three times in San Francisco triggered by a public scandal known as the Watergate.
However he finally succeeded in 1977 becoming the first gay official to be thus elected. Milk’s agenda in politics consisted of campaigns for the government to respond to individual needs, emphasis on gay rights and also retention of San Francisco neighborhoods uniqueness (Gardner, and Krakow 31). During this tenure a gay rights law was passed barring discrimination of persons in respect to housing and employment based on sexual orientation. In the same period, it was announced that more gay persons were to be hired as police officers.
Milk also initiated programs that were to benefit minority groups, the elderly and also workers. He gained popularity for being behind the quashing of a senate proposal to bar gay and lesbian teachers from public schools in California. Milk was shot on November 27 1978 in City Hall by Dan White a former city supervisor who protested at the passage of the gay rights law (Jim 71). This resulted to nationwide protest with riots erupting in San Francisco especially in light of the light sentence handed to Dan White who later committed suicide.
The advantages of Harvey Milk are mainly entrenched in his human rights campaigns. He was bold to fight against the government of the day and as a result programs to cater for transport issues and housing especially for the poor were created. In addition, Milk was able to champion causes against corruption in government evidenced by his initial prompting to join politics during the Watergate scandal which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon (Scruggs).
Milk can be said to have generally influenced generations to stand up and fight for their rights especially in the face of strong opposition. He is said to indeed be an inspiration. The disadvantages on the other hand are mainly entrenched in moral issues which his main adversaries fielded (Scruggs). Such persons argue that Milk made mistakes that have had rippling effects on society especially on moral grounds. Milk is said to have helped open up society to violation of family values that are central to the advancement of society.
His bold stand in favor of homosexuality is demonized by many. In addition, it can be argued that Milk’s hard-line stand on various issues was one of his grave mistakes. It can be said that such stands caused unnecessary friction in society and upset social harmony by inciting people against the government. Despite these shortcomings milk has been immortalized as evidenced in the names of Harvey Milk Democratic Club, the Harvey Milk High School in New York and the annual Harvey Milk Memorial Parade in San Francisco.