The First Openly Gay Elected Official in the US Was Shot to Death

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The year was 1977 and after several earlier failed campaigns, photography store owner turned equal rights activist Harvey Milk (pictured above) was swept into office as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the city’s 11-member legislative assembly.

When sworn in the following year, Milk became the first openly gay American to be elected to high office in the country. As an office-holder, Milk fought for equal rights for all by opposing unconstitutional measures such as the anti-gay Proposition 6.
Above: Harvey Milk.
Prop 6, which stoked homophobia among conservatives, aimed to remove any gays or lesbians serving in California’s public schools, alleging that they were at risk of molesting children (despite the fact that a much higher rate of sexual molestation occurred among heterosexuals, by virtue of the fact that there were many more straight teachers than gays). The measure called for a public witch hunt to be conducted in order to “out” any gays serving in the schooling system. Thanks to the efforts of Milk and others, Prop 6 was defeated statewide.

Another one of Milk’s achievements was to pass a progressive city-wide ordinance which forbade discrimination against residents based on their sexual orientation. It passed with the support of all but one City Supervisor– that of Dan White, who came into office at the same time as Milk. White was angry at Milk for opposing an initiative he had campaigned on, regarding the placement of a center for troubled teenagers (White, a conservative, wanted it out of his district, Milk thought it was necessary to help kids).


Above: White is arrested.

After opposing every piece of legislation that Milk was for, White eventually resigned his seat because he said his salary was too low to support his family. After a few days he changed his mind and tried to get his seat back, but failed. He then snuck a loaded gun into City Hall killed both Mayor Moscone (who had refused to re-appoint him), as well as his liberal rival Milk. Claiming his penchant for junk food had somehow driven him temporarily insane, lawyers for White managed to get him only five years in prison for the murders.

Milk’s life and achievements were chronicled in the documentary “The Times of Harvey Milk” (1984) and the fictional film “Milk” (2008).


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6 Responses to “The First Openly Gay Elected Official in the US Was Shot to Death”

  1. I always thought that the first openly gay elected official was
    President Buchanan! Oh yes he was!

  2. I appreciate the information on this site. I was actually looking for the information on Bellamy and that picture to make a point to a group about the pledge. In just a cursory glance of the site I have issue with one thing. That is that the white people carrying the Confederate Battle Flag in protesting King’s march, you refer to them as racists. First of all, racist is a Marxist term. Secondly, not all people, who object to what black people do, are bigots. Lastly, since your site does address issues not properly taught in our textbooks, you should do some research and do some writing on what King was really all about.

    Thank you for listening to my comment.

  3. “Thanks to the efforts of Milk and others, Prop 6 was defeated statewide.”

    How about another piece of forgotten history: that one of the important “others” in the defeat of Proposition 6 was former Governor Ronald Reagan. Some credit his efforts directed at moderate Californians as turning the corner against the Proposition.

  4. I am a proud gay male and I am totally in support for gay rights. I don’t understand why people are so offended by us. Christians are the real blame for hate and violence in this world. Sad but true. They talk about how Jesus was so loving and all that bs. They lied. They use Jesus as a propaganda ploy against not only gays but other ethnic groups as well. It’s such a shame Harvey Milk was killed. I marched in a memorial for him back in 98. We need more Harvey’s out there to stand up to bigotry and oppression.

  5. @Robbie “proud gay”
    The word is sodomite. That is what you are.
    No where is love in the bible taught for what you sick fecalfageous psychos do.
    You commit analingus and eat your harvest.
    You want normal people to accept this as a mere choice.everything you psychotics print on public bathroom walls express what you really are! God bless White. Judgment is coming Sodom!

  6. Play on word, ” fecalfageous” intentional. Underline f-a-g