Harvey Milk’s electoral victory, in 1977, made him one of the first openly gay elected public officials in the United States. Milk, surprisingly, wasn’t open about his sexuality and didn't work in LGBT activism until he was around 40 but that didn't affect his ability to have a tremendous impact on the United States. His determination to not only live his life, but also serve his community with authenticity symbolized freedom for millions of LGBT people around world. Milk faced many physical and mental challenges on his quest for equality and his perseverance inspired millions of activists.
Harvey Milk served less than a year in the public office position he won so courageously before he was brutally assassinated on November 27th, 1978. To honor Harvey Milk and the incredible progress he made for the LGBT community ten openly LGBT elected or appointed officials will be honored for their commitment to equality and public service at the White House as "Harvey Milk Champions of Change." This year President Obama presents this incredible award to Simone Bell, Georgia State Representative, Angie Buhl O'Donnell,South Dakota State Senator, Karen Clark, Minnesota State Representative, Michael A. Gin, Mayor of Redondo Beach, Kim Coco Iwamoto, Hawaii State Civil Rights Commissioner, John Laird, California Secretary of Natural Resources, Ricardo Lara, California State Senator, Kim Painter, Johnson County Recorder, Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati City Council Member and Pat Steadman, Colorado State Senator. These amazing honorees display the same passion, courage and determination for change Harvey Milk held.
In addition to thanking and honoring the ten inspiring public officials, today we remember Milk and all he did. We will continue to move forward with the inspiring work he was so passionate about to push for the equality we all deserve.