California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a bill which would have established a day to recognise Harvey Milk, the slain gay politician.

The bill aimed to make May 22 Harvey Milk Day, an official ‘day of special significance’ in California, to commemorate the groundbreaking gay leader.

In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said that while he respects the intention of the bill, he believes Milk’s “contributions should continue to be recognized at the local level by those who were most impacted by his contributions.”

It has been reported that the governor was actively lobbied by conservative groups to veto the bill.

Milk is noted as the first openly gay man to hold public office in the US, having been elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.

He was assassinated on November 27 1978 at the age of 48, along with San Francisco’s mayor, by a disgruntled city official. A film about Milk’s life, starring Sean Penn, is set to be released next month in the US.

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