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Harvey Milk Received Presidential Medal Of Freedom, Country’s Highest Civilian Honor

July 30, 2009

Excellent.  Can you see President Bush doing this? 

The late San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk received the presidential Medal of Freedom award today with 15 other recipients ranging across the professional and ideological spectrum, from the late supply sider Jack Kemp to tennis star Billy Jean King to Sen. Edward Kennedy, whose absence from the health care debate due to brain cancer treatments has weighed heavily on the White House.

The medal is the country’s highest civilian honor. President Obama said all the recipients “share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way. Their relentless devotion to breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens sets a standard to which we all should strive.”

Milk, celebrated in an award-winning film, became in 1977 the first openly-gay elected official in a major U.S. city. He and Mayor George Moscone were shot and killed by former supervisor Dan White in 1978. Then board of supervisors president Dianne Feinstein was among the first on the scene, leaving an indelible impression on her, while opening her path to becoming Mayor of San Francisco, one-time candidate for governor and now U.S. Senator.

The White House praised Milk for encouraging lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens “to live their lives openly” and for his belief that “coming out was the only way they could change society and achieve social equality…Milk is revered nationally and globally as a pioneer of the LGBT civil rights movement for his exceptional leadership and dedication to equal rights.”

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