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Navy Begins Construction on Ship Named After Harvey Milk

Navy Begins Construction on Ship Named After Harvey Milk

It's the first Navy vessel to be named for an LGBTQ+ person.

The U.S.S. Harvey Milk could soon be set for sail.

On Friday, the Navy began construction on a ship -- a fleet oiler -- named for the slain civil rights leader. Milk, who served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was one of the first out LGBTQ+ elected officials in the country and a vocal advocate for queer people coming out and living their lives openly. He was assassinated at City Hall in November 1978, just 48 at the time of his death.

The honor has some personal significance for the late activist and his family. After serving in the Korean War, Milk was discharged from the Navy in 1955 for being gay. Before his discharge, he held the position of lieutenant junior grade and served as a dive officer in San Diego.

The construction of the U.S.S. Harvey Milk shows just how far the military has come in the decades since, with the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 2010. Milk will be the first LGBTQ+ person to have a Navy ship named after them.

His nephew, Stuart Milk, was on hand Friday to recognize the moment's significance.

"[This) sends a global message of inclusion more powerful than simply 'We'll tolerate everyone,'" Milk said, as quoted by the San Diego Union-Tribune. "[It says], 'We celebrate everyone."

That message of inclusion, however, is still incomplete. After the Pentagon moved to allow transgender soldiers to serve openly for the first time in a 2016 directive, that order was reversed by President Donald Trump in a July 2017 tweetstorm -- and the U.S. Supreme Court permitted the policy to go into effect in April.

The vessel is currently being built in San Diego. The Navy has not announced a timeline for its completion.

RELATED | In Bold Move, U.S. Navy to Name Ship After Harvey Milk

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