Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a bill honoring slain gay civil rights pioneer Harvey Milk by marking his birthday.

The bill, authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would have set aside May 22 as Harvey Milk Day, designating it as a ‘day of special significance” in California.

It passed the legislature with little difficulty, but the governor in vetoing the bill said that, while he respected the measure’s intent, he thinks Milk’s “contributions should continue to be recognized at the local level.”

May 22 is Milk’s birth date. He would have been 78 this year.

Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 and shot to death a year later, along with Mayor George Moscone, by fellow supervisor Dan White.

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