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Navy oiler Harvey Milk launched in San Diego amid cheers and heartache

Navy oiler Harvey Milk launched in San Diego amid cheers and heartache

A huge new Navy fuel ship was launched into San Diego Bay Saturday bearing the name of Harvey Milk, the slain civil rights leader whose activism fed a social movement that decades later won the right for gay people to openly serve in the military.

In a centuries-old ritual, the 746-foot vessel slid down the ways at General Dynamics-NASSCO, close to where Milk served in the Navy in the 1950s until he was issued a less-than-honorable discharge because he was gay. At the time, he was the diving instructor on a submarine rescue ship.

Saturday’s celebration represented another chapter in the military’s reckoning with its past, when it routinely dismissed gays, lesbians and bisexuals because of their sexual orientation.

Read the full story on the San Diego Union-Tribune here.