American politician and
May 22, 1930,
In 1947 Milk
entered New York
State College for Teachers in
In spite of
Milk's political and social values were conservative through the early
As the decade progressed, however, his views gradually began to change.
new lover, Jack Galen McKinley, worked in theater, and through him Milk
involved as well. In 1968 when McKinley
was hired as a stage director for O’Horgan’s
OFFICE: When the Watergate scandal took place in
was angered by the political cover-ups and decided to enter into the
arena hoping to produce change. His first attempt running for a spot on
Francisco Board of Supervisors was met with defeat.
This said, he did however become popular in
his own largely gay district and became known as “the Mayor of Castro
Street”. On Milk’s third try, he was
to the Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay elected
the city’s history.
starting programs that benefited minorities and the elderly. The city at his urging began a drive to hire
more gay and lesbian police officers. Milk
also gained national attention for his role in
defeating a state
senate proposal that would have prohibited gays and lesbians from
public schools in
A LIFE CUT SHORT: On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor Moscone were shot to death in City Hall by Dan White, a former city supervisor who had quit the board to protest the passage of the city's gay rights law. In his trial for the killings, White's attorneys employed what came to be known as the “Twinkie Defense”.
November 24, 1929,
November 27, 1978,
Moscone was born to
working class parents. His parents
divorced when he was eight at which time George lived with his mother. Moscone with the support of his mom and the
Catholic Church became an outstanding citizen who attended the
the Pacific on a basketball scholarship. He
then went on to graduate from Hastings School of Law.
After law school he married his childhood
friend Gina Bodanza and had four children. They
were still married at the time of his death.
POLITICS: Moscone at
of John Burton,
the brother of state assemblyman Phillip Burton, entered into the arena
politics. He went on to become a
GAY RIGHTS LEGISLATION: As a Senator, Monscone was responsible for a California Gay Rights’ Bill. This bill prohibited discrimination, or unequal treatment in the area of housing and employment based on sexual orientation. The bill was signed in April of 1977 in the mayor’s office. Moscone was not always supported by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as he continually sought their support on various matters.
Former policeman, fireman, and member of San Francisco Board of Supervisors
September 2, 1946,
October 21, 1985,
10, 1978, Dan
White a former police and firefighter resigned his position on the San
Francisco Board of Supervisors, claiming that his annual salary of
not enough to support his family. November
27, 1978 a half hour before the press conference to announce Dan’s
horrific events began to unfold. Dan
White entered City Hall through a basement window to avoid the metal
in the building and fatally shot Mayor Monscone. He
continued down the hall looking for his next
target and fatally shot Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be
an official position in the
Few could have envied Douglas Schmidt's, White’s Counsel’s task when he rose to make the opening statement on White's behalf; after all, he was representing an admitted double assassin. However, he soon went on the offensive. In an impressionable speech he skillfully diverted the jury's attention away from the crime itself and onto the emotional traumas that White had undergone since relinquishing his position as city supervisor. "Good people, fine people, with fine backgrounds, simply don't kill people in cold blood," said Schmidt, "it just doesn't happen, and obviously some part of him has not been presented thus far." Schmidt claimed that White's crimes had been the product of manic depression, "a vile biochemical change" over which the defendant had no control. As added insurance, just in case this line of reasoning failed to sway the jury, Schmidt rounded out his opening with some very pointed comparisons between Milk's overtly homosexual lifestyle and White's all-American background.
Twinkie Defense” as it became known, is synonymous with the trial of
White. White’s legal team took the
position that Dan was suffering from a long-standing and untreated
that diminished his capacity to distinguish right from wrong. Expert testimony by psychiatrist Dr. Martin
Blinder noted White had changed his normally health conscious diet to a
that consisted of junk food. Dr. Blinder
pointed out that this change in diet was evidence of White’s
depression, not a
cause of it. This state of depression
was used to establish grounds for a successful diminished capacity plea
convicting White of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
“I don’t think Twinkies were ever mentioned in testimony,” said chief defense attorney Douglas Schmidt, who recalls “Ho Ho’s and Ding Dongs, but no Twinkies." The main focus of the defense’s case was diminished capacity- that White had suffered from periodic bouts of depression, amounting to “a mental illness.” That, along with “the machinations of dirty politics at City Hall," White’s co-counsel Stephen Scherr said in a recent interview, “drove him ‘round the bend.”
CONVICTION: On May 21, 1979, the jury returned two verdicts of voluntary manslaughter. Judge Walter Calcagno gave White the maximum sentence, seven years, and eight month’s imprisonment. With good behavior he could be a free man in five years. White was released from prison January 6, 1984, after serving five years, one month and nine days.
White was found in a car in the garage of a house owned by his wife in
See: 1981 CAL. STAT. ch. 404, effective January 1, 1982.
See: 1982 CAL. STAT. ch. 893, effective January 1, 1983.
THE FEDERAL RULE OF DIMINISHED CAPACITY-SENTENCING:
The United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) sets minimum sentencing for certain federal crimes, and also sets the guidelines by which judges may stray from these minimums. The U.S.S.G. states that a federal court may depart downward from the minimum sentence on the basis of diminished capacity if the offense was nonviolent. U.S.S.G. § 5K2.13. See also United States v. Cook, 53 F.3d 1029 (9th Cir. 1994).
TEXT OF COUT DECISIONS:
NIGHT RIOT: The
public, particularly the
Academy Awards presented an Oscar to Sean Penn on
February 23, 2009 for best Actor in his portrayal of Harvey Milk in the
Off The Straight & Narrow
Of Twinkies and Suicide Rates
“Misrepresentation of Facts in the Struggle for Queer Acceptance” by
Myth of the “Twinkie defense” –San
Francisco Chronicle, November 23, 2003
Reported in a
“Gays in the
Streets.” New Republic (June 9,
White ‘A Wild Man”, The San Francisco
Examiner, (November 28, 1978) p.1.
Attend Funeral Mass for Slain San Francisco Mayor; Former Supervisor
Looking to the Mayor’s Job”, The New York
Times, (December 1, 1978) p. A20.
Randy. The Mayor of
Weiss, Mike. Double Play: The San Francisco City Hall
Killings, Addison Wesley Publishing
Haider-Markel, Donald, eds., (2002). Gay
and Lesbian Americans and Political Participation.
[et al.]. The
Harvey Milk Institute Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and
Internet Research, Harrington Park Press (2002).
Leslea. A letter
to Harvey Milk” short stories.
Patrick Ewing and
Joseph T. McCann. Minds on
trial: great cases in law and psychology,
Krakow, Kari. The