The United States Navy has made a ship named after a homosexual rights activist who was forced to retire from the military in the 1950s because of his sexual orientation.
At a ceremony in San Diego on Saturday, Carlos Del Toro, the Navy Secretary, and Harvey Milk’s nephew, Stuart, were there to witness the christening of the USNS Harvey Milk.
It is one of the six new ships that will be named after prominent civil rights activists from the United States.
During the Korean War, Milk worked as a diving officer and then as a Lieutenant on USS Kittiwake, a submarine rescue ship, among other positions. In 1955, however, he was pushed out of the army after two weeks of investigation over his gay orientation by the military.
He went on to become one of the first openly homosexual politicians in the United States, being elected to the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco in 1977.
However, a year later after he got elected, he was shot and murdered by Dan White, a former municipal supervisor with whom he had a long history of disagreement.
Milk was obliged to hide that extremely essential portion of his life during his service in the Navy, Secretary Del Toro said during the event.
Del Toro’s words said that for far too long, sailors such as Lt. Milk was pushed into the background or, worse still, driven out of our great Navy. Indeed, injustice is a part of our Navy’s history, but so is the tenacity of individuals who continue to serve against the odds.
Back in 2016, when the Obama administration revealed its plan to name a ship after Harvey Milk, several people voiced their disagreement to the decision.
Due to his well-known opposition to the Vietnam War, they speculated that Milk would have denied the idea of having his name associated with a Navy ship naming ceremony.