sfo03.jpgSan Francisco International Airport could be renamed after slain supervisor and civil rights leader Harvey Milk under a proposal introduced at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Supervisor David Campos introduced a charter amendment to rename the airport in honor of Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the state.

The charter amendment, which would change the airport’s name to “Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport,” needs the support of a majority of supervisors to go on November’s ballot for approval by voters.

The legislation already has four co-sponsors from the board–Supervisors Scott Wiener, John Avalos, Jane Kim and Eric Mar.

Campos, who is also openly gay, said the proposal was a very personal one for him.

“Coming to terms with my own sexuality and own identity is not something that came easily,” he said.

Citing Milk’s speech about the importance of giving hope to LGBT youth and other people facing discrimination or oppression, Campos said “we as a city can give hope … that’s what this really is about.”

Milk, 48, was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone by former Supervisor Dan White at City Hall in 1978.

Campos said Milk’s family is in strong support of the proposal, as are many of his friends, such as Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and activist Cleve Jones.

Ammiano said in a statement, “I can’t think of a more fitting name for the gateway to the city of San Francisco, for which Harvey and his legacy have done so much.”

Campos said one of the deciding factors that led him to go forward with the legislation was a discussion with Stuart Milk, Harvey’s nephew, about all of the passengers who come to SFO from overseas, including from many countries where being gay is illegal.

“We have always been at the forefront of civil rights and the forefront of LGBT rights,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to ask, ‘Who was Harvey?'”

About 40 million people visit San Francisco International Airport daily, including 9 million from overseas, he said.

If the proposal becomes reality, SFO would join more than 80 other airports around the country that are named after individuals, Campos said.

He said whether an airport should be named after someone is “a legitimate question” and said he looked forward to discussing the issue with other city officials.

Mayor Ed Lee said he wanted to look into the matter more before deciding whether he was in favor of it.

Lee said of Milk, “Clearly he’s up there with the best of San Franciscans.”

However, the mayor questioned the costs of making the changes as well as those of putting the measure on the ballot and pushing for its passage.

“That takes resources, it takes dedication,” Lee said. “I want to make sure there’s clear thinking about it … have we thought through all the aspects of this?”

Campos said making the changes to the airport could cost up to $250,000, although he said he would seek private funding to help recoup the costs if the measure was passed.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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