Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing

Today Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected into public office in California, would have celebrated his 83rd birthday.

We celebrate Harvey Milk Day, which was signed into law in 2009, by honoring his legacy and continue to keep hope alive.

His inspiring "Hope Speech," entered into the Congressional Record this morning by openly-gay Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), still serves as marching orders in the fight for equality.

“And the young gay people in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias and the Richmond, Minnesotas who are coming out and hear Anita Bryant in television and her story. The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us'es, the us'es will give up. And if you help elect to the central committee and other offices, more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward. It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.”

Today we have elected openly LGBT officials serving at all levels of government, from big city mayors like Houston’s Anise Parker, to openly gay Members of Congress and our first out U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).  Legislators both LGBT and allied loudly advocate for greater protections and protection for our community.  And though 90 percent of LGBT youth still report hearing negative messages about being LGBT, they remain optimistic that things will get better.

Indeed the tide of change is rising, but it remains the responsibility of us all to steer toward equality and justice for all.


Watch Rep. Takano enter some of Harvey Milk's speech into the Congressional Record from the House Floor.

Later today the White House will honor 10 openly LGBT officials as “Harvey Milk Champions of Change.” Stay tuned to HRC Blog for more.

Filed under: Community, Media

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