Dan White Trial (1979)

Dan White wanted his job back. Days after resigning his position as one of San Francisco's eleven supervisors, he had second thoughts, and asked Mayor George Moscone to reappoint him. When he learned the Mayor would not honor his request, White went to City Hall and gunned down both the mayor and San Francisco's first gay supervisor, Harvey Milk. Few expected, in White's trial the following year, that the jury would not return a murder conviction.

Background

The results on November 3, 1977 electrified San Francisco's gay community. Voters gave a landslide victory in the race for District 5 Supervisor to Harvey Milk, making him the first openly gay elected official in any large city in the United States. Milk told a cheering crowd in the Castro District, "If a gay can win, it means that there is hope that the system can work for minorities if we fight."

The same night saw the election of a very different kind of supervisor. Voters in District 8 chose as their new supervisor Daniel White, a Roman Catholic socially conservative former police officer and fire fighter. As Randy Shilts noted in his biography of Milk, The Mayor of Castro Street, "the media like quick, easy juxtapositions," and so Harvey Milk and Dan White found themselves paired together on a number of local talk shows. They used the opportunities to praise each other, and Milk told friends that he thought he would be able to work with White when the new Board of Supervisors met in January 1978....Continued