Home » Justice » Judicial System » A Tumultuous Twosome- Harvey Milk & Dan White. . .

A Tumultuous Twosome- Harvey Milk & Dan White. . .


An Historical Time Line

(Written by the Ghost of Joe Friday and Ladyjustice)

Who:     Born:  Harvey Bernard Milk

What:    Son of Lithuanian, Jewish immigrants

Where:  Woodmere, New York

When:   May 22, 1930

Why:      Because….  “They birthed babies back then”

Who:     Born: Daniel James White

What:   Son of Irish American Parents

Where:  Los Angeles County

When:   September 2, 1946

Why:      Because… “They birthed babies back then”

Who:    Harvey as Teacher and Naval Officer

What:   Chief Petty Officer

Where: Submarine Rescue Ship, Junior Lieutenant

When:  Korean War (1950-1953)

Why:    Because….  “He joined up”

Who:     Dan as Student & Valedictorian

What:   Attended two high schools, Expelled from Riordian High

for “violence”

Where: San Francisco, California

When:   Army Career 1965-1972

Why:     Why not???

Who:   Harvey as closeted gay man

What:  Ex-teacher, Became Investment, Financial Advisor &

Theater Aficionado

Where: Bache & Company, New York;

When:  1963

Why:   Talent for Finance; Partner was a theater director

Dan White

Who:   Dan as Public Safety Officer & “Boy Wonder”

Saved mother & baby from 7th Floor Apartment; Reported

Cop for beating a suspect; Quit police force;

What:   Police Officer, Firefighter, Security Guard;

Where: Anchorage, Alaska; San Francisco, CA

When:  1965-1972

Why:    “Trying to find his niche”


Who:    Harvey as Hippie, Non-Conformist

What:   Burned his Bank of America Card; Fired from Job;

Opened a Camera Shop in Castro section, San Francisco

Where:  New York & San Francisco

When:   After invasion of Cambodia ~ 1970-1973

Why:     Political, Business views were changing

Who:    Harvey as Budding Politician, Activist

What:  “The Mayor of Castro Street”; Newspaper Columnist;

Several Attempts at Municipal Office: State Assembly &

Board of Supervisors (City Council);

*** Made History as the First Openly Gay Elected Official

Where: The Castro, San Francisco, CA

When:  1973, 1975; 1977

Why:     Building Momentum for Gay Rights & Other Minorities;

Who:     Dan: As Family Man

What:  “The Blank Period;” Married Mary Ann Burns

Nothing else notable …

Where:  San Francisco, CA

When:   1976

Why:      Everybody Needs Somebody….

Who:    Harvey as City Supervisor

What:   Legislator of Gay Rights- Anti-discrimination in

Housing, Employment, Teaching and Increasing the

GLBT Police Force

Where:  San Francisco City Hall

When:   1977 to November 27, 1978

Why:     He was a leader with a vision for change and equal

rights for all… He was a representative of the people.

Who:   Dan as elected official on the Board of Supervisors

What:  SF Police Union, Board of Realtors supported Dan’s

Election, financed it and shared his perception of the City was “soft on crime,” shared his conservative views on religion, civil rights, prostitution intolerance of homosexuality

Where: Southeastern District of San Francisco: District 8,

“the Working Class District”

When:   1977

Why:     They needed someone to represent “the other side.”

Dan nicknamed the epitome of “white bread”

Who/What: “The Juice,” Anita Bryant: Born-again singer campaigns to overturn an anti-discrimination law protecting gay men and lesbians in Dade County, Fla. Inspired by her victory, Bryant founds the first national anti-gay group, Save Our Children, drawing unprecedented attention to gay issues and motivating gay groups to organize in response.

Who/What: James Dobson, author of 1969 pro-spanking book Dare To Discipline, founds Focus on the Family in Arcadia, Calif. Focus will move to Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1991, become America’s wealthiest fundamentalist ministry, and spearhead the campaign against gay marriage.

Where:  Dade County Fl; Colorado Springs CO; Arcadia, California and later in San Francisco…

When: 1977 (The Thirty Years War- A timeline of the anti-gay movement) Southern Poverty Lew Center http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2005/spring/the-thirty-years-war

Why:  “Because they could…..”

Who:  Harvey as revered activist and frequent sparing partner

With other Board Supervisors

What: *** Achieved National Recognition in defeating Senate

proposal Proposition 6 of California to fire gay teachers

or their supporters

Where:  San Francisco City Hall

When:  Early 1978

Why: His star was rising….

Who: “Dan the Man” who quit and then changed his mind-

“Too Late…. “

What:  “Too Little Salary” ($9,600/year- part-time) Couldn’t

support his family… couldn’t deal with the changing

ethics… Recipe for mass murder….

Where: Mayor George Mascone’s office

When:  Late 1978

Why:    Chief of Police, Board of Realtors, Supervisor, Diane

Feinstein convinces Dan to withdraw his resignation

and appeal to Mayor Mascone for the return to his job

WHY, WHY, WHY???  REVERSAL OF DECISIONS          =

DEAD BODIES…

Dan reversed his decision to resign as a consequence of offers for financial help and political influence

Mayor George Mascone was “inclined to give Dan his job once again.”  But, but, but… Harvey reminded George that of all the conservative proposals that had been defeated due to the 6 to 5 conservative majority.  Harvey used his personal agenda to remind the Mayor that Dan “was the only actively gay staff person on the Board of Supervisors.  As George was up for re-election the next year and dependent on the gay community for votes, Mayor Mascone made the fateful decision to deny Dan’s re-appointment. It turned out to be fatal….

Who:  George Mascone:  Former County Supervisor, State

Senator and Mayor of San Francisco

What: Origin: “Wrong side of the tracks” who did well in school

and became a champion of minorities including the elderly,

the working class, the poor, blacks and the GLBT community.

Attended Hastings Law School on a basketball scholarship…

and then was invited to enter the political arena.

Where:  San Francisco, California

When    Born: November 24, 1929; Died November 27, 1978

(‘Just 3 days after his 49th birthday)

Who:  Dan as depressed, dejected, ex-City Supervisor,

“White bread” family man unable to support his brood

What:  Dan entered an open basement window. (Thus avoiding

Metal detectors at the city Hall’s entrances)

He went to Mayor Mascone’s office first – shooting him in the

chest and then in the head as George lay dying on the floor…

Dan re-loaded, walked to the other end of the building,

Asked for a private meeting with Harvey whereby he shot

him twice in the brain

Dan walked out calmly, called his wife, met her at St. Mary’s

Cathedral and then turned himself in to police



Where: at the Northern Station.

Why: “I really lost it that day… I was on a mission.

I wanted four of them” (Confession to former Homicide

Detective Frank Falcon in 1984)

Who:  Dan as Defendant

What: “Diminished Capacity due to Depression” Change in diet was

Evidence of his depression –

*** Forever known as:  “THE TWINKIE DEFENSE”

Plea deal and conviction down to voluntary manslaughter

Seven years reduced to five with “good time”

Total Outrage by the GLBT Community

When: May 21, 1979 White Night Riots

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unu-9vM9VZw (Milk Trailer)

What-Again: Suicide-carbon monoxide poisoning by Dan

in his car

When Again- October 21, 1985

Why:  A very troubled man saw no reason to carry on


If only Harvey was alive today…

Post ScriptCHANGE IN CALIFORNIA LAW:  After the jury convicted White of voluntary manslaughter — the least serious charge for homicide. This caused uproar against the diminished capacity plea in California, and in 1982, voters overwhelmingly approved a proposition to eliminate the defense.

See:  1981 CAL. STAT. ch. 404, effective January 1, 1982. See:  1982 CAL. STAT. ch. 893, effective January 1, 1983. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/danwhitelinks.html

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