Posts Tagged → Milk
December 5th, 2008
I saw Milk this morning. It’s a fine film filled with great performances, especially from Sean Penn as the late Harvey Milk. The movie spans the years 1970 -1978. And focuses on Milk’s last year of life when he was the first openly gay elected official in the country.
It’s hard not to draw comparisons between 1978 and 2008. They’re both years in which Californians went to the polls to decide on the fates of their gay neighbors. In ‘78 it was prop 6 a bill to force gay teachers out of the school system. This year, of course, was prop 8, the bill making it illegal for gays and lesbians to wed.
One likes to believe we’ve come so far in 40 years. And indeed in many ways we have. We are more visible, we have more power. We have followed the advice of Harvey Milk and so many of us have come out of the closet.
But now, as I think about the film just three hours after viewing it, I wonder just how much progress we’ve really made?
In 1978 when Californians were asked to deny their gay neighbors rights, the bill was overwhelmingly defeated. Back then, voters decided on the side of civil rights. But this year — 40 years later– when voters in California went to the polls they chose to deny their gay neighbors civil rights.
I’m not sure what lesson there is to learn from this. Perhaps that we must remain vigilant. And that we must fight until we all have equality. Settling for things being better is not enough. When things are equal we can rest.
Harvey Milk asked for thousands to follow in his footsteps, to do the work he began. Let us all hear his call.