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Supes vote to name SFO terminal after Harvey Milk

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San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, left, and Mayor George Moscone are shown in April 1977 in the Mayor’s Office during the signing of The City’s gay rights bill. (Bob McLeod/1977 S.F. Examiner)

After four years of debate, San Francisco supervisors on Tuesday voted to name Terminal 1 at the San Francisco International Airport after slain LGBT supervisor Harvey Milk.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation Tuesday from Supervisor Hillary Ronen that requires the airport director to submit by Sept. 1 to the Arts Commission “a plan for design and placement of artwork in the terminal memorializing the life and legacy of Harvey Milk.”

Milk, a civil rights leader and the first openly gay elected official in a major city, was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1977. He served until he was gunned down at City Hall in 1978 along with Mayor George Moscone by former Supervisor Dan White.

Former supervisor and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and former Supervisor Harry Britt attended the meeting to speak to the significance of the naming.

“It is very powerful feeling, even though it’s been a number of years,” Ammiano said. “The healing has been slow.”

Ammiano called the naming “a significant moment in San Francisco history.”

“One message that Milk gave was let’s connect the dots. He posited being queer as something very generous and something very open. Rather than turn the community inward he asked that we turn the community outward and look at other marginalized communities and embrace and give them empathy,” Ammiano said.

The effort to name the terminal after Milk was initiated in 2013 by then Supervisor David Campos, who wanted the entire airport named after Milk. The proposal met with resistance and instead an airport naming committee was established that ultimately decided to name Terminal 1 after Milk.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, the first board member openly living with HIV, said, “This really is huge for our community to recognize harvey’s sacrifice.” He added, “It has taken so many hands to build out community.”

“In order to honor one of the nation’s great gay leaders, raise awareness of the history of the LGBT movement, and give hope to young LGBT people in cities everywhere, the Board of Supervisors finds it fitting that a terminal at the San Francisco International Airport be named in honor of Harvey Milk,” the legislation says.

The vote was celebrated by State Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco. “When people fly into San Francisco, they will be greeted by Harvey’s name and his spirit, and we could not ask for a better ambassador for our City,” Wiener said in a statement, “In this time when our community is being challenged and attacked across the country, we can all celebrate knowing that Harvey’s legacy lives on here in San Francisco.”

The legislation requires that the airport director must submit by Dec. 1 a report to the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor describing the plans to implement the naming.

SFO spokesman Doug Yakel previously told the San Francisco Examiner the airport will comply with the legislation. Terminal 1 is undergoing a $2.4 billion renovation and will reopen in phases beginning next year.

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