January 12, 2017 at 5:12 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Harvey Milk’s nephew endorses Ray Buckley for DNC chair
Ray Buckley, Stuart Milk, gay news, Washington Blade

From left, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley and Harvey Milk Foundation Board of Directors President Stuart Milk (Photo courtesy Buckley)

Stuart Milk, the LGBT advocate and nephew of gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk, has thrown his support behind Raymond Buckley in his bid to become Democratic National Committee chair, calling the gay candidate “a passionate, courageous, strategic leader.”

Stuart Milk said Thursday in a statement Buckley isn’t unlike Harvey Milk, who upon becoming a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978 was one of the first openly gay people to be elected to public office in the United States.

“Like Uncle Harvey, Ray, too, has been a ground-breaker, becoming the first openly gay state legislator in New Hampshire, the first openly gay chair of a state political party, and the first openly gay vice chair of the Democratic National Committee,” Stuart Milk said. “Ray is a work-horse, who has demonstrated that he knows progress is built from the local level up, not the top down.”

In 2009, Stuart Milk co-founded the Harvey Milk Foundation, which seeks to encourage organizing within the United States and overseas to advance LGBT and human rights. Among other things, the Foundation led efforts to create the Harvey Milk stamp, organized a transgender summit in Italy and the first Pride parade in Istanbul.

“For all those DNC members who have seen the powerful impact of uncle Harvey’s courage, authenticity, and visibility, and who have seen how all Americans have benefited from his ultimate sacrifice, I ask you to join me in supporting Ray,” Stuart Milk said. “I hope all DNC members agree that Ray Buckley is absolutely the right person that we all need, at this critical moment, to the lead the DNC.”

Buckley, who served as chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and would be the first openly gay person elected as chair of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement he’s “honored” to have Stuart Milk’s support.

“As a gay teen in rural New Hampshire Harvey Milk’s victory gave me hope and inspiration, his assassination gave me courage to fight for my rights,” Buckley said. “I am proud of my decades of work in the national LGBT community. I appreciate the support I am receiving for my candidacy across the nation. This is an historic moment to reform the DNC and start winning again.”

Others seeking the position of DNC chair are Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.); outgoing Labor Secretary Tom Perez; Sally Boynton Brown, executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party; Jaime Harrison, chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party; and Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind. Buttigieg is also gay.

The election for chair will take place at the DNC’s winter meeting in Atlanta, scheduled for Feb. 23-26.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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