San Francisco debates naming airport terminal after gay activist Harvey Milk

Officials in San Francisco are debating whether to name an airport terminal after Harvey Milk. 

Milk is a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who was assassinated in office. He was among the nation's first openly gay politicians.

The effort originally began as an attempt to rename the entire San Francisco airport after Milk, but supporters have reduced their ambition to putting the gay rights icon’s name on one of the airport’s terminals.

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Current San Francisco Supervisor David Campos said this week that he was creating an “Airport Facilities Naming Advisory Committee” that would identify which terminal would be best to rename after Milk. 

“The committee will make recommendations to the board and mayor on which of SFO's terminals should be named after Harvey Milk - as well as other people deserving of that honor,” Campos, who has pushed hard for the name change, wrote on his Facebook page.

“I have met with hundreds of stakeholders, communities groups, and representatives from the aviation and travel industry since this conversation began,” Campos continued. “Two points have become clear: San Franciscans want to honor Harvey Milk and they want to do so through a process that speaks to Harvey’s legacy of bringing people together. After working closely with the mayor and other supervisors we have found a way to achieve both. I especially want to thank The Milk Family for their dedication to spreading the ideals that Harvey stood for.”

A petition on the Change.org website to rename the entire San Francisco airport after Milk has been signed by 21,379 people.

The petition, started by Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk, says the airport should be renamed for the leader because “Harvey Milk's story of courage, authenticity, inclusiveness, collaboration and of ultimate sacrifice, has served as a lifeline to countless LGBT people in the city, nation and across the globe.”

“Adding his name to SFO is more than an ‘honor,’ it will move forward the causes Harvey Milk lived and died for,” Stuart Milk wrote on the website.

“The name Harvey Milk has and continues to inspire hundreds of openly LGBT people to run and get elected to public office in the US and abroad,” the petition continued. “Adding my uncle’s name to SFO will strengthen this beacon of hope, not only for LGBT people, but for all those who have been marginalized, diminished or faced discrimination for being different.”

Stuart Milk noted in the petition that there are many airports in the U.S. that are named after people.

“There are those who say this isn’t the time or place to name an airport after Harvey Milk,” he wrote. “Yet there are 80 airports in the United States named after individuals -- not one is named after an openly-gay leader. If we can’t do it in San Francisco, where can it happen?”