Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Continuing Milk's Legacy: A Quarter Century after Gay Rights Pioneer Harvey Milk Was Murdered in San Francisco, Fellow Activist Tom Ammiano May Be Elected Mayor

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Continuing Milk's Legacy: A Quarter Century after Gay Rights Pioneer Harvey Milk Was Murdered in San Francisco, Fellow Activist Tom Ammiano May Be Elected Mayor

Article excerpt

In November the city of San Francisco will commemorate the 25th anniversary of a terrible event: the assassination of Harvey Milk, a trail-blazing gay city supervisor, and George Moscone, the city's popular mayor. The two political allies and gay rights advocates were gunned down by former supervisor Dan White at City Hall on November 27, 1978.

Now, in what many gay rights activists are describing as a fitting tribute to Milk's political legacy, Tom Ammiano, one of Milk's fellow activists in the battle for gay rights in the 1970s, is a front-runner in the race for mayor of San Francisco. Furthermore, Ammiano, a city supervisor, shares the ballot with openly lesbian city treasurer Susan Leal. Recent polls, however, show both candidates running behind the leading contender, San Francisco supervisor Gavin Newsom.

On the eve of the November 4 election (a runoff will take place December 9 if none of the six candidates captures a majority), The Advocate spoke with Ammiano about the election and Milk's legacy.

How is the anniversary of Milk's assassination affecting the campaign?

It certainly makes this election very poignant and visceral for everyone involved. It shows the stakes of what we're trying to do. I think Harvey would have been happy to know that Susan Leal and I are running.

Milk was cut down in his prime. Would he have gone on to be mayor?

If not mayor, Congress. He talked a lot about running for the state legislature. He was always moving forward on gay civil rights, so I think he would have gone as far as the voters would have allowed. He was always aware that even as we made gains, others would try to push us back. With assimilation even gay people get complacent, and he would have been very concerned.

How well did you know Milk?

We were not intimate by any means. …

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