The Harvey Milk Day Bill (SB 572) was introduced in February of 2009, this bill was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger on October 11th, 2009. It proclaims May 22nd Harvey Milk Day, and encourages public schools and educational institutions to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date.
"We are grateful to the Governor for signing these critical and groundbreaking measures into law and rising above partisan politics to improve the lives of LGBT Californians," said Equality California (EQCA) Executive Director, Geoff Kors. The Harvey Milk Day bill marks the first time in the nation's history that a state will officially recognize and celebrate the contributions of an openly LGBT person with an annual "day of special significance." "Californians will now learn about Harvey's amazing contributions to the advancement of civil rights for decades to come," Kors said. "He is a role model to millions, and this legislation will help ensure his legacy lives on forever."
The bill’s lead author was Gay and Jewish State Senator Mark Leno, a Democrat who represents part of San Francisco and other sections of the Bay Area. Additionally, the bill’s principal co-authors were Senator Christine Kehoe and Assembly Members Tom Ammiano and now Speaker of the Assembly John A. Perez.
In 2008, a similar bill (AB2567) was passed, but vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. The New York Times reported that the “The governor rejected it then, arguing that Mr. Milk, a gay rights advocate who was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 and was killed the following year, ought to be commemorated locally.
Harvey Milk Day events and memorials have been organized by The Harvey B. Milk Foundation, established by Harvey’s nephew Stuart Milk, who like Harvey has chosen to speak out as an openly gay advocate.