After 40 years of the murder of Harvey Milk, LGBT politicians follow his legacy

Forty years after the assassination of Harvey Milk, California's first elected official openly gay, candidates from the LGBT community achieved a record number of triumphs in the Nov. 6 elections, continuing their ideal of defending minority rights.

Milk gained notoriety in the late 1970s by launching his campaign to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors without hiding his sexual preferences and in 1978 when the California city passed an ordinance protecting the rights of homosexual workers.

Eleven months after his election, on November 27, 1978, the politician and the then mayor, George Moscone, were murdered in the Town Hall by Dan White, an ex-policeman and local exsupervisor who opposed Milk's policies.

After his death, a recording that Milk had made in the event of his assassination was revealed.

"I'd like to see every gay doctor, every gay lawyer, every gay architect go out, get up and let that world know," says Milk on the tape. "That would do more to end the prejudices of the night than anyone could imagine, I urge you to do that, I urge you to get out, and that's the only way we'll begin to achieve our rights."

For Jorge Mario Cabrera, spokesman for the Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHIRLA), the murder of Milk gave impetus to movements in favor of social justice that since then have struggled to obtain political representation.

And after 40 years of Milk's call, more than 160 candidates belonging to the LGBTQ community (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and undefined gender) managed to obtain or retain a seat in the past selections, 10 in the federal Congress, 106 in state legislatures and 45 in local governments.

One of the most outstanding victories was that of the Democrat Jared Polis in Colorado, who will be starting next January the first openly homosexual governor elected in the United States.

The triumphs even occurred in states of conservative tradition like Kansas, where Sharice Davids won a seat in the House of Representatives, becoming the first lesbian and Native American congresswoman for that state.

The surprise was Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona, becoming the first openly bisexual federal senator of that state. In Texas, Gina Ortiz Jones will be the first LGBT congresswoman to represent a district in that state.

Governor Kate Brown of Oregon, who is bisexual, and Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, the first lesbian senator in the upper house, are part of the wave of politicians who followed in Harvey's footsteps.

In the middle of the record for this community in the presidential mid-term elections, and how much progress has been made since the death of Milk, Cabrera warns that not everyone in the LGBTQ community has the same benefits, freedoms and political space.

"Discrimination against lesbian women and the transgender community, for example, continues, starting in the White House, and hate crimes and the suicide rate among LGBTQ youth continues to rise," insists Cabrera.

The activist highlights conservative attempts to break down various protections that have been achieved for this community.

One example, he said, was the popular consultation in Massachusetts to repeal a state law that protects transgender people from discrimination in public places like bathrooms, locker rooms and hotels, although the measure was rejected by the majority of voters.

But his legacy went further, in the opinion of the mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, who said that the struggle of the politician also helped the causes of women and other minorities.

Breed, the first African-American mayor of the Californian city, said in a statement prior to the commemoration that today will be held in San Francisco for the death of Milk that the politician "opened the doors of the in California for future leaders."

A message that students of the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy have heard, an alternative school in the Castro district of San Francisco with a strong emphasis on the teaching of nonviolence and tolerance.

Students, along with unionized workers, and politicians will today accompany the LGBT community to celebrate the legacy of the activist.


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