The U.S. Postal Service dedicated a stamp to Harvey Milk, one of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials, in a White House ceremony Thursday.
“This stamp reflects our longstanding commitment to civil rights,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman. “Harvey Milk joins other civil rights pioneers who have been honored with stamps including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Caesar Chavez.”
Milk was a San Francisco city supervisor when he and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated at city hall Nov. 27, 1978, by a former city supervisor. Milk was posthumously awarded a Medal of Freedom in 2009. Thursday would have been his 84th birthday.
Milk was honored by officials including United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first openly lesbian woman to serve in Congress.
“Standing here as a United States senator and a lesbian, it’s incredible to look back upon a time when running for San Francisco supervisor as an openly gay man seemed like a revolutionary act, and Harvey knew that. He welcomed the attention, he weathered the insults, he shrugged off the death threats. And it wasn’t to satisfy his own ambition but rather to answer the call he felt, to move the cause of equality forward,” Baldwin said. “He ran for office so others wouldn’t have to run from who they were. He spoke out so others wouldn’t feel compelled to live in silence.”
After receiving a number of death threats, Milk, who urged gay men and lesbians to come out of the closet, recorded a message stating, "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet shatter every closet door."
Now, Stroman said Thursday, "almost 40 years later, there are far fewer closet doors in America.”
Anne Kronenberg, co-founder of the Harvey Milk foundation and campaign manager of Milk's successful election to public office, said it's almost ironic that Milk is on a stamp.
"During our campaign we didn’t have enough money for postage," Kronenberg said. "So Harvey, here you are today on a United States Postage stamp and I say this is a wonderful thing because you will be there forever.”