SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP) --- California lawmakers are discussing the possibility of setting aside May 22 each year as a "day of special significance" honoring Harvey Milk, an openly homosexual San Francisco alderman whose murder in 1978 made him an icon of the "gay rights" movement.
While the observance would not be an official holiday, the bill encourages schools to teach about Milk's legacy -- a fact that hasn't escaped California citizens concerned about the agenda homosexual activists have for California public schools. The proposal would not require parental consent for mandatory student participation.
The text of SB 572 states: "On Harvey Milk Day, exercises remembering the life of Harvey Milk and recognizing his accomplishments as well as the contributions he made to this state" should be conducted; specifically, "all public schools and educational institutions are encouraged to observe ... and ... conduct suitable commemorative exercises."
A Southern Baptist pastor in San Diego told Baptist Press he believes the vague wording of the bill opens the door to almost any kind of "gay pride" observance in which even kindergartners could be required to participate.
"The bill is going to amend the education code to include Harvey Milk Day on May 22. It says, 'It is the intent of the legislature that the exercises encouraged in this section be integrated into the regular school program and be conducted by the school or institution within the amount otherwise budgeted for educational programs,'" said Chris Clark, pastor of East Clairemont Southern Baptist Church. "What that means is that if there's money to do it, the school can do whatever they would like to commemorate Harvey Milk Day. The imagination can kind of run wild with that. There's really nothing that would restrict or narrowly define what they could or could not do."
Randy Thomasson, president of the SaveCalifornia.com advocacy group, agreed with Clark.
"SB 572 could mean homosexual-bisexual-transsexual pride parades in public schools every May 22. SB 572 pressures elementary, junior high and high schools to 'conduct suitable commemorative exercises' in support of the radical sexual agenda of Harvey Milk," Thomasson said in a news release. "Where are the boundaries? Where are the definitions? This in-your-face, anything-goes, homosexual-bisexual-transsexual indoctrination is definitely not what parents want for their children."
Lawmakers are pursuing the legislation despite the fact that a statewide poll conducted in March by Survey USA found 69 percent of Californians opposed establishing a "Harvey Milk Day" and only 19 percent favored the idea, Clark pointed out.
"That's not surprising. The legislature has voted resolutions in the wake of Prop. 8, urging the Supreme Court to overturn it," he said. "It's not the first time our state legislature has ignored the vote of the people."
Proposition 8 was a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman that California voters approved by a 52-48 percent margin in November 2008.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a virtually identical Harvey Milk Day bill in 2008 because popular opinion was running against creating the holiday, Clark said. He and Thomasson both expressed hope that Schwarzenegger would veto this year's version once it passes the state Assembly.
Activists are determined to create a society in which homosexual behavior is accepted as normal and those who disagree are punished, Clark said.
"Followers of Jesus, we've got to realize this effort to normalize homosexual behavior is going to be relentless. It is not going to stop until homosexual behavior is embraced by this society and any criticism of that behavior is criminalized," Clark told Baptist Press. "You see that going on in Washington right now with the new hate crimes, hate speech legislation. It's not going to stop until pressure is brought to bear on Bible-believing Christians who hold to the tenets of the Bible, to either shut them up or close them down.
"We just need to realize that this is the battle we face," Clark added. "While we need to be firm, we also need to be loving and open to people caught up in same-sex attractions and lovingly bring them to Jesus and allow them to see the difference He can make in their lives."
"Sadly, the California Legislature seems hell-bent on promoting the homosexual lifestyle as a role model for children. It's absurd -- the government school system teaches children not to smoke or use drugs, yet SB 572 would teach children as young as kindergarten that homosexuality is good and healthy and maybe even for them," Thomasson said. "That's just not true. Homosexual and bisexual behavior causes up to 82 percent of all HIV transmissions in California."
Mark Kelly is a Baptist Press assistant editor.