Folks, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and every Republican who covers up for Schwarzenegger’s liberal follies are helping to destroy the GOP’s “pro-family” brand. Corrupting children’s minds and souls through manipulative school exercises like “Harvey Milk Day” is anti-family and anti-child to the core. You simply cannot be pro-sexual sin and pro-family at the same time.
~Peter LaBarbera, Americans For Truth About Homosexuality
Karen Ocamb, over at LGBT POV, has a round-up of what conservative “Christians” are thinking about education of late, with quotes by the California Family Council (a press release here, and an audio below in Shockwave player) and the Capitol Resource Institute (email release) on the Harvey Milk Day bill (SB 572), being signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Frankly, Harvey Milk Day has been receiving a lot more attention on the religious right than I thought this bill deserved, and had no idea why this particular bill garnered so much attention.
The San Francisco Chronicle‘s PoliticsBlog tells us in their piece California’s official Harvey Milk Day “an idea whose time has come”:
Harvey Milk Day, a state day to honor the slain San Francisco gay rights advocate, is now official in California thanks to a somewhat unexpected signature Monday from Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has vetoed such legislation in the past…
…[State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco)], reached Monday, said he believed Schwarzenegger finally signed the bill this session to establish a day for the late San Francisco supervisor because “Harvey Milk Day is an idea whose time has come.” …
Why is this a bill whose time has come?, I talked to Alice Kessler, Equality California’s Director of Government Affairs, and asked her what passage of the Harvey Milk Day bill into law means. I wanted to know why this bill was important to the LGBT community into the future, and why this bill was apparently so important to conservative “Christians.”
The answers kind of surprised me — honestly, I just hadn’t thought this one through. First is symbolism: Martin Luther King Jr. has a day in California; Cesar Chavez has a day in California; now Harvey Milk has a day in California. What the California Legislature and Governor has done in passing SB 572 is elevate an LGBT civil rights figure into parity with an African American and labor civil rights leaders: This bill being law now symbolically states that the LGBT civil rights movement is equal to the African American and the labor civil rights movements.
The other actually is school curriculum. From the California Family Council audio above:
Governor Schwrtzenegger’s deadline for legislative yearfor 2009 is capped off with the anti-family law, forcing tearchers to waste academic instructional time honoring deceased homosexual politician Harvey Milk in grades K through 12.
You know how the religious right is always railing against the teaching the Homosexual Agenda™ in public schools? A little further into that audio, executive director of the California Family Council — Ron Prentice — gives us part of what I’d call the “Christian” Agenda™ here in California in response to this bill:
“…And, we will ensure, that in coming years, voters will place into elected office those people who are orentated towards priciple, and holding to a standard of values that the citizens of the state hold.”
One of the things the Harvey Milk Day bill encourages is school lesson plans that stimulate discussion about Harvey Milk. Alice Kessler and I were discussing back and forth about how Martin Luther King Jr. Day has resulted in many lesson plans and classroom discussions about contributions of many more African Americans than just Martin Luther King Jr., Harvey Milk Day will result in many lesson plans and classroom discussions about contributions of many more LGBT Americans than just Harvey Milk.
In other words, this bill encourages discussion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights activists and issues in California classrooms.
I asked Alice Kessler about how this may result in transgender people discussed in the classroom, and she mentioned how trans people at Stonewall — such as civil rights activist Sylvia Rivera — will at some point soon be the subject of lesson plans adopted for use in California classroom.
And, there is a ripple effect. If California’s public schools starts including curriculum about Harvey Milk and other LGBT people for discussion in the classrooms, other states may follow.
It’s much more than a just another state day to have on the state calendar; it’s a lot of why LGBT Californians, and conservative “Christian” Californians — as well as LGBT people and conservative “Christians” beyond the California state lines — care so much about the Harvey Milk Day bill being passed into law.
So, in Alice Kessler’s and my minds, the Republican Governor of California — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger — signing the Harvey Milk Day bill into law is both pretty surprising, and pretty significant. This is a far more important bill than I at first thought it was.