In 1977 Harvey Milk won a seat as the San Francisco city supervisor, the first time an openly gay official had been elected by the public. He served 11 months, throwing everything he had into the fight for equality, becoming solely responsible for the city's gay rights ordinance, the first of its kind. On November 27, 1978, he and San Francisco mayor George Moscone were assassinated by the recently resigned city supervisor Dan White.
In 1984 director Rob Epstein made a documentary about Milk's hard-won and ceaseless battle for gay rights, and the ripples resonating from his tenure and his assassination. The documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk, won the Best Documentary Oscar and opened many people's eyes to the crucial need for equality and tolerance, particularly in a year when the public was panicking and pointing fingers due to the AIDS epidemic.
Last night voters in Wisconsin elected Tammy Baldwin, a Democratic representative and the first openly gay U.S. Senator. Last night voters supported marriage equality acts in Maine, Maryland and Washington, and voted out a proposed gay marriage ban in Minnesota. And last night voters across the country re-elected a President who has openly stated his support for marriage equality for straight and gay Americans alike.
We voted for a lot of things last night. We voted for education, for the environment, for the right for all women to make their own health care decisions. And we voted for a President whose acceptance speech included these historic words:
America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.
I am so proud of my country today.