U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus plans to name a ship after gay rights leader Harvey Milk.
On July 14 Mabus signed “a notification” indicating his intent to put Milk’s name on a “Military Sealift Command fleet oiler.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the ship will be named the “USNS Harvey Milk.” The paper quoted Milk’s nephew, Stuart Milk, who said: “Mabus told him that the ship would travel worldwide.” But a Navy spokesman declined to comment on any plans for such a ship, as it “would be a couple of years” before the ship is even put into service.
News regarding intentions to name a ship after Milk brought mixed reviews from rank-and-file Navy personnel. Many in the gay community were thrilled to hear that Milk’s work on their behalf would be honored while others–even in that same community–worry that bestowing such an honor on Milk could backfire, considering the fact that he was also “an anti-Vietnam War” activist.
Cleve Jones interned for Milk and suggests that Milk–a Navy veteran–held such strong opinions against war that he might not be happy with the decision either. Jones said, “I have no idea what Harvey would think of this. He has been dead a long time. I can tell you I have mixed feelings. It is obviously an indication that gay people are more accepted than they were when he lived. And I think he would be glad of that. But he did not like war.”