California Gov. Jerry Brown issued a proclamation yesterday marking May 22nd as “Harvey Milk Day,” praising the slain civil rights hero’s legacy of “hope, tolerance and equality.”
But whoever wrote Brown’s proclamation got history wrong in the section that reads, “In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man in the history of the United States to be elected to public office.”
Milk was actually the fifth out candidate elected to public office in the U.S., and the third openly gay man. His victory in 1977 was preceded by the election of the following openly gay and lesbian candidates:
1st – Kathy Kozachenko (Ann Arbor, Mich., City Council)
2nd – Elaine Noble (Massachusetts House of Representatives)
3rd – Jim Yeadon (Madison, Wis., City Council)
4th – Allan Spear (Minnesota State Senate)
UPDATE: A reader wrote to quibble with our order, pointing out that Jim Yeadon was first elected by members of the Madison City Council, and later was elected by voters to retain the seat. That would make him 4th and bump Allan Spear to 3rd.