Harry Britt

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Harry Britt
Harry Britt at East Bay Atheists 20140316.JPG
President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
In office
Preceded byNancy G. Walker
Succeeded byDoris M. Ward
Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
from the 5th district
In office
January 1979 – January 1993
Preceded byHarvey Milk
Succeeded bySue Bierman
Personal details
Born(1938-06-08)June 8, 1938
Port Arthur, Texas, U.S.
DiedJune 24, 2020(2020-06-24) (aged 82)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic

Harry Britt (June 8, 1938 – June 24, 2020) was an American political activist and politician in San Francisco. Britt was involved during the late-1960s in the civil rights movement when he was a Methodist minister in Chicago.[1] He was first appointed to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in January 1979 by Mayor Dianne Feinstein, succeeding Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in City Hall along with Mayor George Moscone by former Supervisor Dan White.[2]


San Francisco Board of Supervisors

Britt served as President of the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club.[3] Additionally, he was elected to the Board of Supervisors in November 1979, 1980, 1984, and 1988[4] and served as President of the Board of Supervisors from 1989 to 1990.[5] Britt was one of a few members of the Democratic Socialists of America to be elected to public office.[6]

Britt, who was openly gay, introduced domestic partner legislation in 1982, which was passed by the Board of Supervisors but vetoed by Mayor Feinstein. In 1989, under Britt's leadership, the board again passed domestic partner legislation, which was this time signed by Mayor Art Agnos.[7] However, voters repealed the domestic partnership law by initiative; a modified version was reinstated by another voter initiative, 1990's Proposition K, also written by Britt.[8][9]

Other campaigns

Britt chose not to run for reelection in 1992.[10] He ran unsuccessfully for California's 5th congressional district in 1987, narrowly losing to Nancy Pelosi in a special election to fill the seat left after the death of Sala Burton, winning 32 percent of the vote to Pelosi's 36 percent.[11][12] He also was unsuccessful in his 2002 race against Mark Leno for a seat in the California State Assembly.[13]

Later career

Britt directed the Weekend BA Degree Completion Program at New College of California, which closed in January 2008 due to financial problems.[14]


After a long illness, Britt died at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco on June 24, 2020.[15]

See also


  1. ^ Daly, Chris. "Pushing the debate". San Francisco Call.
  2. ^ Shilts, Randy (1982). The Mayor of Castro Street. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-52330-5.
  3. ^ Faderman, Lillian (2015). The Gay Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 371–72. ISBN 978-1-4516-9411-6.
  4. ^ "Board of Supervisors: Past Supervisors". City and County of San Francisco. Archived from the original on 2008-11-14. Retrieved 2008-11-19.
  5. ^ National Research Council (U.S.). Panel on Monitoring the Social Impact of the AIDS (1993), The Social Impact of AIDS in the United States, National Academies Press, p. 222, ISBN 978-0-309-04628-2
  6. ^ Democratic Left, vol. 8 no. 1 (January 1990), page 7.
  7. ^ Bishop, Katherine (1989-05-31), "San Francisco Grants Recognition To Couples Who Aren't Married", The New York Times
  8. ^ Bailey, Robert (1998). Gay Politics, Urban Politics. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 316. ISBN 978-0-231-09663-8.
  9. ^ Reinhold, Robert (1990-10-30). "Campaign Trail; 2 Candidates Who Beat Death Itself". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "SF's Gays Crying out for a Leader". San Jose Mercury News. 1992-11-13. pp. 19A.
  11. ^ "Gay is expected to make strong run for House seat". San Jose Mercury News. 1987-02-10. pp. 1C.
  12. ^ Associated Press (1987-06-03). "Democrat Elected in San Francisco". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Gordon, Rachel (2002-03-09). "Britt concedes race to Leno". San Francisco Chronicle. pp. A–18.
  14. ^ Fulbright, Leslie (2007-07-31). "Progressive New College in academic, fiscal mess". San Francisco Chronicle. pp. A–1.
  15. ^ Laird, Cynthia (2020-06-24). "Breaking: Gay former SF supervisor Harry Britt dies". Bay Area Reporter.

External links

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