And in 1955, after the Navy officially questioned him about his sexual orientation, he was made to resign with the rank of lieutenant junior grade.
The USNS Harvey Milk is one of the oilers in a class named after Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, which also includes vessels named for civil rights leaders such as Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone and Robert F. Kennedy.
The military’s policies on LGBTQ rights
Things have changed considerably in the military since Milk’s service.
About 15 years after Milk was assassinated, President Bill Clinton signed “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a policy that banned military personnel from discriminating against closeted LGBTQ service members but still barred openly LGBTQ people from serving in the armed forces.
President Barack Obama repealed that policy in 2011, allowing LGBTQ people to serve openly in the military.
But some barriers still remain.
A fierce advocate for LGBT rights
After moving from New York to California, Milk helped start the Castro Village Association, one of the first predominantly LGBTQ-owned business groups in the country. In 1977, he was elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.
While serving as a city supervisor, Milk introduced legislation to protect the gay community, including a gay rights ordinance in 1978 to ban discrimination against LGBTQ in housing or employment. He and other activists also succeeded in striking down Proposition 6, which would have mandated the firing of gay or lesbian teachers in California.
Less than a year after Milk was inaugurated as city supervisor, he and Mayor George Moscone were shot to death in the San Francisco city hall by a former fellow city supervisor over a job dispute.
When his killer was sentenced to seven years, riots broke out over what many perceived to be a lenient sentence.
In 2009, President Obama posthumously awarded Milk the Medal of Freedom to recognize his contributions as a trailblazing advocate for LGBTQ rights.
CNN’s Erika Ryan and Jamie Crawford contributed to this report.
Source : CNN