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USNS Harvey Milk launching Nov. 6

USNS Harvey Milk launching Nov. 6

LGBTQ national leaders and government officials from all over the United States will be descending upon San Diego on Nov. 6for the official launching ceremony of the USNS Harvey Milk at the NASSCO Shipyard.

In order to make the ship a reality, San Diego City and County Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez started a letter writing campaign to then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus with the support of the International Imperial Court System of the USA, Canada and Mexico. The Imperial Court System has over 70 chapters in cities across the three nations. 

Murray-Ramirez kicked off the letter writing campaign following the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011. The letter writing program followed the same campaign strategy that Murray-Ramirez and the Imperial Court System used for their successful efforts that resulted in the approval of the U.S. Postal Service’s Harvey Milk stamp.

Among the many confirmed LGBTQ dignitaries attending the Nov. 6 ceremony are former Houston, TX Mayor Annise Parker, who now serves as the national executive director of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, and San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman who currently represents the district Milk represented.

A special invitation-only reception is being planned for VIPs and visitors following the ceremony and will be hosted by the International Imperial Court Council, Harvey Milk Foundation, and the Victory Fund. Rich’s San Diego nightclub will also be hosting the official celebration of the USNS Harvey Milk on the night of Nov. 6 with a special souvenir for all active duty military and veterans. 

Former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the commissioning and naming of the USNS Harvey Milk in a ceremony held in San Francisco. San Diego’s mayor at the time, Kevin Faulconer, led a San Diego delegation to that ceremony which included Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, then-State Assemblymember Todd Gloria, State Commissioner Robert Gleason, Marine Veteran and founder of American Veterans For Equal Rights Bob Lehman, the late Benjamin F. Dillingham, III, and Commissioner Murray-Ramirez, who spoke at the reception.

San Diego has the proud distinction of being the first city in the world to name a street after Milk, an effort that was led by Murray-Ramirez and then-City Councilmember Gloria. This was followed by Milk street namings in Salt Lake City, Portland, Paris, and Miami. 

Murray-Ramirez, who is also on the board of the Harvey Milk Foundation, worked with Milk before his assassination in 1978, during the statewide Anti-Briggs campaign to combat a state proposition which would have not allowed LGBTQ individuals to work as teachers in public schools.

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly scaled down what Commissioner Murray-Ramirez, the Imperial Courts, and the Harvey Milk Foundation had been planning as a major celebration for this historic event. 

“My main priority is to make sure LGBTQ veterans are well represented,” said Commissioner Murray-Ramirez. “I must acknowledge all the Imperial Court chapters, the Harvey Milk Foundation, the San Diego GLTBQ Historic Task Force, former Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Mayor Todd Gloria, Stuart Milk, and the officials at General Dynamics, National Steel and Shipbuilding (NASSCO), and especially Dennis Dubard who all play an important role in making the USNS Harvey Milk a reality.”

For more information, contact Murray-Ramirez at 619-241-5672 or nicolemrsd@gmail.com.