LGBTQ San Diego County News
Immediately after “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed in 2011, San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez and the oldest LGBT organization in the U.S., the International Imperial Court System (founded in 1965) launched a major letter-writing campaign to the secretary of the Navy to name a vessel after civil rights icon and Navy veteran Harvey Milk, who was stationed in San Diego in the 1950s.
The 75th U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus received letters from elected officials, organizations, and citizens from states including, Kentucky, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, an more. The San Diego City Human Relations Commission was the first government agency to send a letter as well as California Senator Toni Atkins, Assembly member Todd Gloria and Mayor Kevin Faulconer — who became a major supporter of the ship campaign.
After nearly six years, the letter-writing campaign of the Imperial Courts —just like their Harvey Milk U.S. postage stamp campaign — resulted with success when Mabus announced the naming of three Naval vessels: the USNS Robert F. Kennedy, the USNS John Lewis and the USNS Harvey Milk. Faulconer led a San Diego delegation to the official announcement by the secretary of the Navy at The Great Lawn on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay area, that included Atkins, Gloria, City Commissioners Nicole Murray Ramirez and Robert Gleason, veteran Bob Lehman and the late veteran Ben F. Dillingham III.
There are three ceremonies when it comes to building a Naval ship: The laying of the steel, the laying of the keel, and the official dedication. Speaker of the House and San Francisco Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is an official “sponsor” of the USNS Harvey Milk, which will begin construction next month at the General Dynamics NASSCO Shipyard San Diego, which will include the first ceremony, “The Laying of the Steel.”
“Stuart Milk, the Imperial Court System, Harvey Milk Foundation and America’s active LGBT military and veterans are looking forward to next month’s beginning of the building of the USNS Harvey Milk,” stated Murray Ramirez. “And I must commend Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Mayoral Aide Eric Young, and NASSCO officials for their outstanding outreach and co-operation with the LGBT community when it comes to this historic ship — the USNS Harvey Milk.”