The Victory Fund reports that Harvey Milk will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom, the highest civilian honor of the United States. Stuart Milk, Harvey’s nephew, will accept the award at a White House ceremony to take place on August 12th.
“We are thrilled President Obama is honoring Harvey Milk with the Medal of Freedom. He’s an American hero and trailblazer whose election more than 30 years ago triggered a political awakening that inspires us still today. This recognition sends an important message about how critical political leadership will be in making all Americans equal in the eyes of the law,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.
Stuart Milk echoed Wolfe’s praise, saying, “The President’s action today touches the core of our very human hearts and my uncle would be so proud of this high honor. His election was, for him, a beginning–a chance to make real change. That change is happening, but we still have so far to go. I hope this recognition inspires LGBT Americans everywhere to heed Harvey’s call to run for office, to serve openly, to live proudly with authenticity and to demand the equality that we all deserve.”
Also receiving the Medal Of Freedom that day will be famed lesbian tennis player Billie Jean King and Sen. Ted Kennedy, both longtime advocates for LGBT rights.
UPDATE: The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force responds:
“Today’s White House announcement of Medal of Freedom awards to the late Harvey Milk and to Billie Jean King honors two openly gay and lesbian people for their outstanding contributions to the nation. We applaud and cheer that Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King’s dedication to freedom and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and for women and girls is at last being recognized with our country’s highest civilian honor. Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King are trailblazers whose courage, commitment and perseverance have brought our country to a better place. How utterly appropriate that they will receive an award named the ‘Medal of Freedom.’
“We also applaud the inclusion of Sen. Edward Kennedy, who has been a longtime advocate and leader in the U.S. Senate on a host of legislative initiatives pertaining to HIV/AIDS and LGBT equality; and of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, two faith leaders who have been outspoken on and supportive of LGBT issues. Each of these recipients has indeed made important contributions toward equality and justice.”