Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

California’s governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has finally approved a bill establishing 22 May as Harvey Milk day in the state, in honour of the slain gay rights activist.

This was the second time that the bill had come before Schwarzenegger for his signature.

In October last year the governor chose to veto the legislation, saying then that he believed Milk should rather be “recognised at the local level by those who were most impacted by his contributions.”

Since then Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama and was the subject of an Oscar-winning film starring Sean Penn.

“That made the difference from last year,” said a spokesperson for Schwarzenegger, “he’s really come to symbolise the gay community in California”.

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 in 1978 at the age of 48 by a disgruntled city official.

Schwarzenegger also signed another bill on Monday which will see California recognise all same-sex marriages licensed anywhere in the US before the passage of the Proposition 8 gay marriage ban in November last year.

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