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Ronen seeks to force SFO to change Harvey Milk signage plan

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Late San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk is pictured in the Mayor’s Office in April 1977, during the signing of The City’s gay rights bill. (AP file photo)

Almost a year after San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed legislation to rename the San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 1 after slain Supervisor Harvey Milk, Supervisor Hillary Ronen said she’s still fighting for the name change.

On Tuesday, Ronen’s office announced legislation to force SFO to put prominent signage outside the terminal that reads “Harvey Milk Terminal” in big, bold letters.

The name change is to be official once the terminal’s extensive remodeling is finished in 2022.

“This legacy was to be expressed through artwork and photography inside of the terminal and also by prominent signage on the exterior of the terminal,” Ronen said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Sadly, the SFO Airport Commission has fought against these efforts every step of the way. Most recently, they presented a design plan for the terminal signage that goes against the very core of the legislation to rename the terminal after Milk,” she said.

According to Ronen, the airport commission’s proposed plan is to have main signage that reads “Terminal 1” with “Harvey Milk Terminal” written in smaller font underneath.

“This is not acceptable. The exterior signage is important because it is one of the first things that visitors coming to the airport will see. The entire point of the terminal renaming is to elevate Harvey Milk’s legacy–not to have it mentioned as a footnote,” Ronen said.

SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said Tuesday that the airport’s team is working to ensure the exterior design of Terminal 1 fully reflects the Board of Supervisor’s efforts and intentions.

Ronen’s effort to rename the terminal began in 2017, when she reintroduced legislation to begin the renaming process, after earlier efforts in 2013 by then-Supervisor David Campos were unsuccessful.

Then in April 2018, after supervisors passed the legislation, then-Mayor Mark Farrell singed the legislation to rename Terminal 1 after Milk, the state’s first openly gay politician.

Milk was first elected to the board in 1977 after having become a gay rights activist and also championing the rights of farm workers, low-income tenants, laborers and homeless youth. He was assassinated, along with then-Mayor George Moscone, when former Supervisor Dan White gunned them down inside City Hall in 1978.

“Harvey Milk was a pioneer leader in the gay rights movement and the first open gay elected official in California. By naming the terminal after him, we are not just paying tribute to a slain San Francisco hero, but we are also raising awareness about the history of the LGBTQ movement in this country, a movement that continues to struggle against brutal transphobia and homophobia,” Ronen said.

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