U.S. History - Reagan/Milk Ronald Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

In many respects, Milk's broad political objectives emphasizing the responsibility of government to solve the problems of its citizens may have been more effective in furthering gay rights than the more militant or at least confrontational approach taken by many of his contemporaries as well as those of others since his assassination (Marcus, 2002).

Specifically, Milk acknowledged but never directly promoted his own homosexuality and in his responsibilities in local government, Milk responded to citizens' complaints about matters such as roads that needed potholes repaired and the need for local ordinances pertaining to the mandatory cleanup of dog droppings. More importantly, in a town with many gay residents who were not parents, Milk opposed the closing of an elementary school under the proposition that the community must be equally welcoming of everybody and not reflect the needs of any groups over those of others, regardless of their respective prominence (Marcus, 2002).

In general, such concerns exemplified Milk's overall belief that the road to achieving tolerance for gays and other minorities lay in valuing the underlying principles of equality rather than in supporting causes specific to particular groups, even his own.

In that regard, Milk can also be credited with helping to establish a more community- centric attitude conducive to the rights of all individuals that achieved the objective of increasing the acceptance of homosexuality in a manner that avoided polarizing his constituents on either side of the issue (Marcus, 2002). Challenges and Changes to Western Political History Inspired by Harvey Milk:

Harvey Milk obviously faced a tremendous challenge represented by his homosexuality at a time
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when tolerance and acceptance of alternative lifestyles was not encouraging to acknowledging ones sexuality publicly. For that reason, Milk himself had never revealed his homosexuality to his mother before her death (Marcus, 2002) notwithstanding his continual campaign to promote gay acceptance in society.

Milk' assassination contributed to changes in California law with respect to the statutory definitions of "diminished capacity" as a defense to charges of murder after his murderer, Dan White received an extremely light sentence making him eligible for parole after only five years, partly by virtue of the so-called "Twinkie" defense advanced by his defense counsel who argued that junk food had contributed to White's diminished mental capacity at the time of the assassination (Marcus, 2005).

During the period leading up to White's trial, the assassination of Harvey Milk also highlighted the need for political and institutional reform in the realm of tolerance, because many members of the San Francisco Police Department openly supported the defendant, even wearing shirts announcing that sentiment, primarily for no other reason than Milk' sexual orientation. The riots that resulted in the wake of White's sentence also helped focus attention on the need for changes that have since taken shape throughout California and in much of the United States. Milk's assassination also reshaped city politics in California and ultimately helped to achieve one of Milk's objectives of emphasizing the fundamental importance of neighborhoods within the larger community (Marcus, 2005). Specifically, district elections were eventually reinstituted and subsequently, San Francisco established neighborhood political representatives.

References Marcus, E. (2002). Making Gay History. New York:…

Sources Used in Documents:

References Marcus, E. (2002). Making Gay History. New York: HarperCollins.

Reeves, R. (2005). President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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