Milk wasn’t the first gay politician in U.S. 

click to enlarge Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official in California - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official in California

The San Francisco Examiner speaks erroneously (Newsmakers, Wednesday) when it calls Harvey Milk the first openly gay elected official in the United States. In fact, Milk was not the first — he was the sixth.

He was, however, the first openly gay elected official in California.

More importantly, he was the first openly gay elected official to be regarded as a genuine threat  by enemies of the gay community — not so much because he was gay, but because he was also reasonably left-wing, reasonably fearless, and very articulate and persuasive.

When Jose Sarria ran for the Board of Supervisors in 1961, nobody cared — at least partly because they knew he would not get elected; and they were right. He did not win. He did, however, go down in history as the first openly gay candidate for public office in the U.S.

The first openly gay and lesbian politicians in the U.S. were Nancy Wechsler and Jerry DeGrieck, who were serving together on the Ann Arbor (Mich.) City Council when they came out together in 1973. Kathy Kozachenko was the first openly gay candidate for public office to win an election, earning a spot on the Ann Arbor City Council in 1974.

Micheal T. McLoughlin
San Francisco


Lee unfair to candidate

When London Breed commits to serve her community, she does it with all the energy and integrity possible (“Supervisor hopeful blasts ban,” Tuesday). Her service on the Fire Commission, and before that at the Redevelopment Agency, has been exemplary. Her devotion to doing the best job possible is the centerpiece of who she is.

Mayor Ed Lee is simply wrong to assume that as a candidate for public office, she would shirk her responsibilities to her nonpaid Fire Commission post. Indeed, if Lee were consistent in his demand that sitting officials resign when they become candidates, he would also insist his supervisor appointee, Christina Olague, vacate her seat in order to keep a clear divide between her campaign and her highly political public job. The same goes for candidate John Rizzo, who heads the San Francisco Community College board of trustees. Fair is fair.

Ted Loewenberg
San Francisco

Keep race out of politics

Welcome Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who came to the Bay Area pushing identity politics and to garner the Asian-American vote (“Lee lauds power of Asian vote,” Thursday). This is in sharp contrast to President Barack Obama’s campaign call for unity in a “post-racial America.”

Liberals will likely call this an expression of ethnic solidarity. I call it a path to wider ethnic division.
I wonder if Schultz thinks that a similar type of voting outreach should be implemented in Israel? There is as much chance of that as The San Francisco Examiner publishing this letter.

Philip Melnick
San Francisco

Parking placards abused

This is in response to several people who have written in about placards and parking for disabled people.  

I can’t count how many times I have seen a totally healthy person sprinting into a store after parking in a handicapped spot with a visible placard displayed in his or her car.  

What we really need are a few cops questioning and asking obvious parties for proof or documentation of the handicap.

I bet you dollars to doughnuts that a big percentage of folks are using those placards illegally. Simple as that!

Margaret McNamara
San Francisco

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