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Harvey Milk to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom
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Harvey Milk to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
30 July 09

The White House just announced that on August 12 President Obama will bestow America's highest civilian honor--the Presidential Medal of Freedom--on Harvey Milk, a true American hero and trailblazer. On behalf of the boards and staff of the Victory Fund, we are thrilled.

Harvey was one of the first openly LGBT elected officials in the country, and he was so much more than that. He was a leader who understood the incredible power of being out, speaking out and demanding the equality we all deserve. But Harvey also knew demands alone were not enough, so he stood for election time and again until he finally won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, where he worked to pass the city's first LGBT rights ordinance. He gained real power, and used it expand freedom and equality.

Harvey's election was a political awakening that inspires all of us at the Victory Fund each and every day. In fact, one of the first things our staff sees when we enter our office is an iconic photo of Harvey outside his camera shop on Castro Street. It reminds us what we can accomplish when we are guided by hope rather than fear.

We also learned the President will honor tennis legend Billy Jean King and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy with the Medal of Freedom. King, an open lesbian, has been a champion for women's and LGBT rights throughout her distinguished career, and Sen. Kennedy's tireless work on behalf of LGBT Americans has made him one of our most important allies. In fact, the Victory Fund honored Sen. Kennedy in 2004 with our Oates-Shrum Leadership Award.

This high honor, the Medal of Freedom, recognizes extraordinary lives, but it is also a signal that leadership, especially political leadership, is critical to completing the work begun by people like Milk, King, Kennedy, Bayard Rustin, Dr. Frank Kameny, The Mattachine Society, The Daughters of Bilitis and so many others whose sacrifice and courage helped deliver the progress we see today.

The Victory Fund's mission is to build on that hard work, and to elect more courageous people like Harvey Milk who continue to build a more equal and just America. Thank you for support of our work.

Chuck Wolfe
President
Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund

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Harvey Milk to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom
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