(SAN FRANCISCO) — If six of the 11 San Francisco Board of Supervisors sign off on a ballot initiative to rename the city’s current airport to the Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport, they could be making history.
“We have not found any legislation nor was there ever an actual naming of an openly gay official for an airport,” said Stuart Milk, Harvey Milk’s nephew. “Harvey never had a citywide election because he was elected to a supervisory district, so this has a real synergy to it that the people of San Francisco are going to be voting for Harvey Milk. I think he would have loved that.”
Harvey Milk was the city’s first openly gay elected politician and a champion of gay and civil rights in the 1960s and ’70s. After serving for a mere 11 months as District 5 supervisor, former supervisor Dan White shot and killed Harvey and Mayor George Mascone on May 27, 1978, inside San Francisco City Hall.
As of Jan. 16, District 9 supervisor David Campos had the support of five from the Board of Supervisors, including his own. Campos needs the support of one more to qualify for the majority six signatures needed to push the initiative onto the November ballot. The legislation would be voted on as a charter amendment since the San Francisco Airport, more commonly known as SFO, is referenced within the charter of the city.
Campos said in the U.S. alone there are over eight airports named after individuals, and many more throughout the world. But when he realized none of those airports featured the name of an LGBT person, he decided to act.
On Jan. 15, he formally introduced the initiative to the board, and the response was “very well received.” If the initiative passes in November, it will not only be a professional success but a personal victory for Campos.
“I believe as an openly gay man that we, as a community, have made contributions to a community like anyone else — that someone, somewhere name an airport after someone in this community,” said Campos. “It seemed to me that San Francisco would be the right place. If not in San Francisco, then where?”
SFO acting airport spokesman Doug Yakel said, “From the perspective of the airport, we don’t have an opinion on the matter.”
Yakel told ABC News during an SFO airport commission meeting on Jan. 15, that commissioner members said it was “an issue that requires careful consideration; it requires a thorough understanding of the financial impact, meaning, What does it cost to rename an airport? And there are many individuals who have made a contribution to San Francisco from a political perspective that warrants consideration.”
Campos said this initiative is a process and would not be “something that would happen automatically.”
“Nothing has been easy in the fight for LGBT rights or in Harvey’s life,” said Campos. “I’m hoping to have a dialogue and I think there’s some resistance from people who don’t want to see change. We just hope to engage in a dialogue with people, and so I’m optimistic.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio