An anti-gay rights group has purchased hourly radio spots in Sacramento to urge parents to keep their children home from school on Harvey Milk Day, which honors the gay rights pioneer.
Randy Thomasson, president of the SaveCalifornia.com, said the group bought more than 100 time slots for a radio ad in Los Angeles and Sacramento. It urges parents to "protect your children from Harvey Milk indoctrination," by keeping them home from school Wednesday.
"This is harmful to children," Thomasson said. "This is not academic, it's brainwashing."
John O'Connor, executive director of the gay rights group Equality California, said the radio spots "expose homophobia" and "encourage discrimination."
Milk served less than one year on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as the first openly gay elected official in California before he was fatally shot in 1978 along with Mayor George Moscone by colleague Dan White. Milk's life was depicted in the Academy Award-winning movie "Milk." In 2009, the state Legislature designated Milk's birthday, May 22, as a "day of special significance."
The law encourages schools to conduct "suitable commemorative exercises" to mark Milk's life.
Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, an openly gay legislator from San Francisco, called SaveCalifornia.com's efforts "pathetic."
"There will always be haters, but Milk said you must have hope," said Ammiano, who coauthored the bill creating Harvey Milk Day. "And we have hope that there are changing attitudes toward the LGBT community."
PHOTO CREDIT: Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco cuts a cake with the image of civil rights pioneer Harvey Milk during a 2009 celebration of the gay rights activist's birthday.
Hector Amezcua / The Sacramento Bee