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

Supervisor David Campos announced that he plans to introduce 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.

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

The charter amendment, which would change the airport’s name to “Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport,” needs the support of five other supervisors to go on the November ballot. It would then have to be approved by the city’s voters.

Gay rights activists lauded the proposal this morning.

“Renaming the airport for Harvey Milk would be an international symbol of hope and freedom, and an enormous educational opportunity,” Equality California executive director John O’Connor said in a statement.

“People from around the world–including countries where being gay is still against the law–will learn about Milk’s great legacy. This is a chance to lead the world and affect positive change on a global scale,” O’Connor said.

Stuart Milk, Harvey’s nephew and an Equality California board member as well as co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation, said the proposal “is a wonderful and fitting tribute to Harvey and the spirit of inclusion that embodies the core values he taught and lived by.’

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who was a close friend of Harvey Milk, said, “It’s about time that an out gay person was recognized on this international scale. 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.”

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

Similar changes, including the addition of “Norman Y. Mineta” to San Jose International Airport, have cost up to $250,000. If approved, Campos would seek private funding to reduce the costs of the name change.

The supervisor said in a statement that naming the airport after Milk would bring a message of hope to its 40 million-plus passengers each year.

“Our country is nearing a turning point in recognizing equality for all people regardless of sexual orientation,” Campos said. “It is the perfect moment to send a message of hope from San Francisco across the globe.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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