The ship, built by NASSCO, bears the name of the slain activist and San Francisco politician who fought for gay rights.
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.