Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Little Stamp With The L-A-R-G-E Message


Harvey Milk Stamp Creates Controversy

How many Harvey Milk stamps have been “returned to sender?”  Since the U.S. Postal Office has issued the stamp on May 22nd, the date of slain gay rights activist Milk’s birthday, the American Family Association (AFA) has urged the public to trade the stamp for one of the United States flag.  This fundamentalist group, that champions Christian activism and is against gay rights, also dictates that if you receive mail with a Harvey Milk stamp, that you write “Return to Sender” on the envelope.

Milk’s Awards

The AFA contends that the Milk stamp was the result of seven years of lobbying by a self-described drag queen, a California man with implanted breasts who was a former transsexual prostitute, named Nicole Murray Ramirez of San Diego. Regardless, Harvey Bernard Milk was recognized by many as a hero who spoke out on state and national issues of interests not just for LGBT people, but women, racial and ethnic minorities.  For his efforts, Milk was awarded posthumously in 2009 the Medal of Freedom, accepted by his nephew, from President Barack Obama. 

Also listed in Time magazine’s list of “100 most important people of twentieth century,” Milk, a former Math and History teacher from Long Island, New York, owned a camera shop in the Castro District of  San Francisco.  In 1977, after district elections replaced citywide elections, Milk ran again for the post of Supervisor and won.  The election was a landmark event as he was the first openly gay elected official in the United States.  He was appointed by Mayor George Moscone to The  Board of Permit Appeals, making him, , in 1975, the first openly gay commissioner in the United States.

On the California ballot, he worked successfully to defeat on November 7, 1978  Proposition 6 which, if passed, would have mandated the firing of all LGBT public school teachers as well as anyone who supported LGBT rights in the school.  A few weeks later, he was killed by Dan White, a former police officer who clashed with Milk over gay issues. 

In the Face of Hate

Milk was aware of LGBT discrimination throughout the U.S. and regularly received hate mail to such an extent that he recorded his will on several occasions on a tape recorder as seen in the movie Milk.

While the AFA thinks it is “championing Christian activism,” Harvey Milk did so in the face of adversity.