WASHINGTON — Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) on May 22 honored Harvey Milk on the House floor by entering Milk’s most famous words into the Congressional Record.
Milk, who served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California and is considered one of the earliest LGBT activists. He was assassinated in 1978 along with Mayor George Moscone.
May 22, which would have been his 83rd birthday, is recognized as “Harvey Milk Day.”
Takano is the first openly gay person of color elected to Congress. When he first ran for Congress in the 1990s, his opponent attacked him for being gay, but in last year’s election Takano’s sexual orientation wasn’t an issue.
Following is the text of Takano’s statement.
“Somewhere in Des Moines or San Antonio there is a young gay person who all the sudden realizes that he or she is gay; knows that if their parents find out they will be tossed out of the house, their classmates will taunt the child, and the Anita Bryants and John Briggs are doing their part on TV. And that child has several options: staying in the closet, and suicide.
“And then one day that child might open the paper that says ‘Homosexual elected in San Francisco’ and there are two new options: the option is to go to California, or stay in San Antonio and fight. Two days after I was elected I got a phone call and the voice was quite young. It was from Altoona, Pennsylvania. And the person said, ‘Thanks.’
“And you’ve got to elect gay people, so that thousands upon thousands like that child know that there is hope for a better world; there is hope for a better tomorrow.
“Without hope, not only gays, but those who are blacks, the Asians, the disabled, the seniors, the us’s: without hope the us’s give up. I know that you can’t live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you, and you, and you, and you have got to give them hope.”
Those words, Mr. Speaker, were spoken by Harvey Milk. It is with tremendous honor and gratitude that I enter them into the Congressional Record on his behalf and all of the us’s in our nation.