George Moscone

George Richard Moscone (/məˈskoʊni/; November 24, 1929 – November 27, 1978) was an American attorney and Democratic politician. He was the 37th mayor of San Francisco, California from January 1976 until his assassination in November 1978. He was known as "the people's mayor", who opened up City Hall and its commissions to reflect the diversity of San Francisco. Moscone served in the California State Senate from 1967 until becoming Mayor. In the Senate, he served as Majority Leader.

George Moscone
George Moscone
37th Mayor of San Francisco
In office
January 8, 1976 – November 27, 1978
Preceded byJoseph Alioto
Succeeded byDianne Feinstein
Member of the California Senate
In office
Preceded byHarold Thomas Sedgwick
Succeeded byJohn Francis Foran
Constituency10th district (1967–71)
6th district (1971–76)
Member of the
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
In office
Personal details
George Richard Moscone

November 24, 1929
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedNovember 27, 1978 (aged 49)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Cause of deathAssassination
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, Colma, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Gina Bondanza (m. 1954)
Children4, including Jonathan
Alma materUniversity of California, Hastings College of the Law
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1953–1956
Battles/warsKorean War

Early life and education

Moscone was born in the Italian-American enclave of San Francisco's Marina District, California.[1] His father was George Joseph Moscone, a prison guard at nearby San Quentin, and his mother, Lena, was a homemaker who later went to work to support herself and her son after she separated from her husband. [1]

Moscone attended St. Brigid's, and then St. Ignatius College Preparatory, where he was a noted debater and an all-city basketball star. He then attended College of the Pacific on a basketball scholarship and played basketball for the Tigers.

Moscone then studied at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where he received his law degree.[1] He married Gina Bondanza, who he had known since she was in grade school, in 1954. The Moscones would go on to have four children.[2] After serving in the United States Navy, Moscone started private practice in 1956.[1]


As a young man playing basketball and as a young lawyer, Moscone became close friends with John L. Burton, who would later become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.[1] John Burton's older brother, Phillip, a member of the California State Assembly, recruited Moscone to run for an Assembly seat in 1960 as a Democrat. Though he lost that race, Moscone would go on to win a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1963.[1] On the Board, Moscone was known for his defense of the poor, racial minorities and small business owners, as well as supporting the first successful fight in San Francisco to block construction of a proposed freeway that would have cut through Golden Gate Park and several neighborhoods.

California State Senator

In 1966 Moscone ran for and won a seat in the California State Senate, representing the 10th District in San Francisco County.[3] Moscone was quickly rising through the ranks of the California Democratic Party and became closely associated with a loose alliance of progressive politicians in San Francisco led by the Burton brothers. This alliance was known as the Burton Machine and included John Burton, Phillip Burton, and Assemblyman Willie Brown. Soon after his election to the State Senate, Moscone was elected by his party to serve as Majority Leader. He was reelected to the 10th District seat in 1970 and to the newly redistricted 6th District seat, representing parts of San Francisco and San Mateo Counties, in 1974. He successfully sponsored legislation to institute a school lunch program for California students, as well as a bill legalizing abortion that was signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan. In 1974 Moscone briefly considered a run for governor of California, but dropped out after a short time in favor of California Secretary of State Jerry Brown.[1]

Moscone was considered ahead of his time as an early proponent of gay rights. In conjunction with his friend and ally in the Assembly, Willie Brown, Moscone managed to pass a bill repealing California's sodomy law. The repeal was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown.

Mayor of San Francisco

On December 19, 1974, Moscone announced he would run for Mayor of San Francisco in the 1975 race.[4] In a close race in November of 1975, Moscone placed first with conservative city supervisor John Barbagelata second and supervisor Dianne Feinstein coming in third.[4] Moscone and Barbagelata thus both advanced to the mandated runoff election in December where Moscone narrowly defeated the conservative supervisor by fewer than 5,000 votes.[4] Liberals also won the city's other top executive offices that year as Joseph Freitas was elected District attorney and Richard Hongisto was re-elected to his office of Sheriff.

Moscone ran a grassroots mayoral campaign which drew volunteers from organizations like Glide Methodist Memorial Church, Delancey Street (a rehabilitation center for ex-convicts) and the People's Temple which was initially known as a church preaching racial equality and social justice but turned into a fanatic cult.[5] For the rest of his life, Barbagelata maintained that the People's Temple had committed massive election fraud on behalf of Moscone by bussing people in from out of town to vote multiple times under the names of deceased San Francisco residents.[6]

The Peoples Temple also worked to get out the vote in precincts where Moscone received a 12 to 1 vote margin over Barbagelata.[7] After Peoples Temple's work and votes by Temple members were instrumental in delivering a close victory for Moscone, Moscone appointed Temple leader Jim Jones as Chairman of the San Francisco Housing Commission.[8]

Moscone's first year as Mayor was spent preventing the San Francisco Giants professional baseball team from moving to Toronto and advocating a citywide ballot initiative in favor of district election to the Board of Supervisors. Moscone was the first mayor to appoint large numbers of women, gays and lesbians and racial minorities to city commissions and advisory boards. In 1977, he appointed Del Martin, the first openly gay woman and Kathleen Hardiman Arnold, now Kathleen Rand Reed, the first Black woman, as Commissioners on the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women (SFCOSW). Moscone also appointed liberal Oakland Police Chief Charles Gain to head the San Francisco Police Department. Gain (and by extension Moscone) became highly unpopular among rank and file San Francisco police officers for proposing a settlement to a lawsuit brought by minorities claiming discriminatory recruiting practices by the police force.

In April 1977 Moscone stood up to officials in Washington by supporting 25-day occupation of San Francisco's Federal Building by a group of over 100 people with disabilities demanding their civil rights in what would become known as the 504 Sit-In. While federal officials hoped to starve out the protesters, the mayor visited them and arranged to have portable showers and towels brought in. Thanks in part to Moscone's support, the occupation was successful, and helped pave the way for passing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) thirteen years later.[9]

In 1977 Moscone, Freitas and Hongisto all easily survived a recall election pushed by defeated Moscone opponent John Barbagelata and business interests. It was a political vindication for Moscone, who won in a landslide. Barbagelata announced he was retiring from politics. That year also marked the passage of the district election system by San Francisco voters. The city's first district elections for Board of Supervisors took place in November 1977. Among those elected were the city's first openly gay Supervisor, Harvey Milk, single mother and attorney Carol Ruth Silver, Chinese-American Gordon Lau and fireman and police officer Dan White. Milk, Silver, and Lau along with John Molinari and Robert Gonzales made up Moscone's allies on the Board, while Dan White, Dianne Feinstein, Quentin Kopp, Ella Hill Hutch, Lee Dolson, and Ron Pelosi formed a loosely organized coalition to oppose Moscone and his initiatives. Feinstein was elected President of the Board of Supervisors on a 6–5 vote, with Moscone's supporters backing Lau. It was generally believed that Feinstein, having twice lost election to the office of mayor, would support Kopp against Moscone in the 1979 election and retire rather than run for the Board again.

Peoples Temple investigation

In August 1977, after Housing Commission Chairman Jim Jones fled to Jonestown following media scrutiny alleging criminal wrongdoing, Moscone announced his office would not investigate Jones and the Peoples Temple.[10] The later mass murder-suicide at Jonestown dominated national headlines at the time of Moscone's death.[11]

After the tragedy, Temple members revealed to The New York Times that the Temple arranged for "busloads" of members to be bussed in from Redwood Valley to San Francisco to vote in the election.[12] A former Temple member stated that many of those members were not registered to vote in San Francisco, while another former member said "Jones swayed elections."[12] Prior to leaving San Francisco, Jones claimed to have bribed Moscone with sexual favors from female Temple members, including one who was underage; his son, Jim Jones, Jr., later remembered how Moscone frequented Temple parties "with a cocktail in his hand and doing some ass grabbing".[13]


Late in 1978, Dan White resigned from the Board of Supervisors. His resignation would allow Moscone to choose White's successor, which could tip the Board's balance of power in Moscone's favor. Recognizing this matter as such, those who supported a more conservative agenda and opposed integration of the police and fire departments talked White into changing his mind. White then requested that Moscone appoint him to his former seat.

Moscone originally indicated a willingness to reconsider, but more liberal city leaders, including Harvey Milk, lobbied him against the idea, and Moscone ultimately decided not to appoint White. On November 27, 1978, three days after Moscone's 49th birthday, White went to San Francisco City Hall to meet with Moscone and make a final plea for appointment. White snuck into City Hall through a basement window to avoid the metal detector at the main door. He carried his old police revolver. When Moscone agreed to talk with him in a private room, White pulled the gun out of his suit jacket and shot and killed Moscone. White then re-loaded his gun, walked across City Hall, went to Milk's office and shot Milk, killing him as well.

Dianne Feinstein, President of the Board of Supervisors, was sworn in as the city's new mayor and in the following years would emerge as one of California's most prominent politicians.

White later turned himself in at the police station where he was formerly an officer. The term "Twinkie defense" has its origins in the murder trial that followed, in which Dan White was convicted of the lesser crime of manslaughter. Outrage over White's lenient sentence provoked a mass riot in San Francisco during which police cars were set on fire by angry protestors. White was released from prison and then shortly afterward committed suicide in 1985.


George Moscone grave
Moscone's grave at Holy Cross

Moscone is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California alongside his mother Lena.

Moscone Center, San Francisco's largest convention center and exhibition hall, and Moscone Recreation Center are named in his honor. Moscone and Milk also have schools named after them: George Moscone Elementary, Harvey Milk Elementary and Harvey Milk High School.

Moscone's main political legacy is his opening up San Francisco City Hall to be a more diverse and inclusive place with political appointments that represented the full spectrum of the population, including minorities and the growing gay community. Despite a backlash from the old political guard and conservatives, culminating in the double assassination of Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, both leading progressives, the city never retreated from Moscone's more inclusive view of politics.

In 1980, sculptor Robert Arneson was commissioned to create a monument to Moscone to be installed in the new Moscone Convention Center. The bust portraying Moscone[14] was done in Arneson's expressionistic style and was accepted by San Francisco's Art Commission. Arneson included as part of the decoration on the pedestal the likeness of a pistol that gained public disapproval. At issue were references to Harvey Milk, the assassinations, the "Twinkie Defense", the White Night riots, and Dianne Feinstein's mayoral succession. Arneson refused to make alterations to the work, the commission was returned to him, and it was later resold. In a critique of the event, Frederic Stout wrote that "Arneson's mistake was in presenting the city mothers/fathers with something honest, engaging and provoking, that is to say, a work of art. What they wanted, of course, was not a work of art at all. They wanted an object of ritual magic: the smiling head of a dead politician."[15] In 1994 a new bust by San Francisco artist Spero Anargyros was unveiled, depicting Moscone holding a pen, below which are words from Moscone: "San Francisco is an extraordinary city, because its people have learned to live together with one another, to respect each other, and to work with each other for the future of their community. That's the strength and beauty of this city – it's the reason why the citizens who live here are the luckiest people in the world."[15]

Moscone was portrayed by Victor Garber in Gus Van Sant's Harvey Milk biopic, Milk. Their murders were also the subject of the Dead Kennedys' version of the Sonny Curtis song "I Fought the Law".[16] Moscone's then-14-year-old son Jonathan later co-wrote the play Ghost Light with Tony Taccone about the effects the assassination had on him. It premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2011. A public television documentary about Moscone's political career, Moscone: A Legacy of Change, debuted in November 2018, the 40th anniversary of Moscone's death. Produced by Nat Katzman, written by Stephen Talbot and narrated by Peter Coyote. [17]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Sward, Susan, Moscone's Time Was Anything But Quiet, November 26, 1998
  2. ^ "Mayor, Supervisor Killed in San Francisco Shooting", Cornell Daily Sun, November 28, 1978
  3. ^ JoinCalifornia, George R. Moscone, Candidate Election History, Retrieved February 19, 2007
  4. ^ a b c Nolte, Carl, CITY HALL SLAYINGS: 25 Years Later, San Francisco Chronicle, November 26, 2003
  5. ^ Taylor, Michael, "Jones Captivated S.F.'s Liberal Elite", San Francisco Chronicle, November 12, 1998
  6. ^ Cothran, George. Barbagelata's Return?, San Francisco Weekly, November 18, 1998.
  7. ^ Kilduff, Marshall and Ron Javers. Suicide Cult: The Inside Story of the Peoples Temple Sect and the Massacre in Guyana. Bantam Books, New York, 1978. ISBN 0-553-12920-1. page 45.
  8. ^ Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple.
  9. ^ Shapiro, Joseph (1993). No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement. Three Rivers. p. 67.
  10. ^ Kinsolving, Kathleen and Tom. "Madman in Our Midst: Jim Jones and the California Cover Up." 1998. at Ross Institute.
  11. ^ Rapaport, Richard, Jonestown and City Hall slayings eerily linked in time and memory, San Francisco Chronicle, November 16, 2003
  12. ^ a b Crewdson, John, "Followers Say Jim Jones Directed Voting Frauds", New York Times, December 16, 1978
  13. ^ Jim Jones' sinister grip on San Francisco, Salon, May 1, 2012
  14. ^ "Portrait of George, 1981". Archived from the original on October 13, 2008.
  15. ^ a b Hartman, Chester, City for Sale: The Transformation of San Francisco. Berkeley, University of California Press, 2002, 193–196.
  16. ^ "Dead Kennedy's". I Fought the Law lyrics. Archived from the original on April 16, 2007. Retrieved April 17, 2007.
  17. ^
  • "Moscone: A Legacy of Change" (2018) One-hour political biography. A production of the University of the Pacific. Presented to public television stations by KVIE, Sacramento. Produced and directed by Nat Katzman. Written by Stephen Talbot. Narrated by Peter Coyote.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Alioto
Mayor of San Francisco
Succeeded by
Dianne Feinstein
1975 San Francisco mayoral election

The 1975 mayoral election was held to select the 37th mayor of San Francisco, and was held in two parts. In the November regular election, then-Speaker of the California State Assembly George Moscone placed first with conservative city supervisor John Barbagelata second and moderate supervisor Dianne Feinstein coming in third. Moscone and Barbagelata thus both advanced to the mandated runoff election in December where Moscone narrowly defeated the conservative supervisor by 4,400 votes, a margin of less than 1%.For the rest of his life, Barbagelata maintained that the People's Temple religious cult, led by Jim Jones, committed election fraud by bussing in out-of-town church members to double and triple vote for Moscone under the registrations of dead voters.

1979 San Francisco mayoral election

The 1979 mayoral election was held to elect the mayor of San Francisco. Incumbent mayor Dianne Feinstein, who had succeeded George Moscone after his assassination the prior year, was elected to her first full term as mayor of the City and County, the first woman to be elected to the position in the city's history. Feinstein, with (46.63%) was tied in the November 6 election with Quentin L. Kopp (44.72%), both of whom beat out musician Jello Biafra, Sylvia Weinstein, Cesar Ascarrunz, Steve L. Calitri, Tibor Uskert, Joe Hughes and Patricia Dolbeare.Feinstein and Kopp participated in the December 11 runoff, in which Feinstein won with 53.96% over Kopp's 46.04%. Feinstein was sworn into office on January 1, 1980.

1987 San Francisco mayoral election

The 1987 mayoral election was held to elect the 39th mayor of San Francisco. Dianne Feinstein, then the incumbent, had served as mayor since the 1978 assassination of mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk and had been elected to full terms in 1979 and 1983, and was thus term-limited. Then-California State Assembly member Art Agnos came from behind to defeat Supervisor John Molinari, garnering 70 percent of the vote.

Anne Kronenberg

Anne Kronenberg is an American political administrator and LGBT rights activist. She is best known for being Harvey Milk's campaign manager during his historic San Francisco Board of Supervisors campaign in 1977 and his aide as he held that office until he and mayor George Moscone were assassinated. As an openly lesbian political activist, Kronenberg was noted for her instrumental role in the gay rights movement, both for Milk's campaign and in her own right, though she has since married a man.

Kronenberg appeared in the 1984 documentary film The Times of Harvey Milk and her role in Milk's life was portrayed in the Academy Award-winning 2008 film Milk. Kronenberg was one of the grand marshals of the 2009 New York City LGBT Pride parade, joining the film's writer Dustin Lance Black and AIDS activist Cleve Jones who also worked with Milk.Kronenberg is currently the executive director of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management, and she is known globally through her public appearances in her role as co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation.

Automatic Pilot

Automatic Pilot was a San Francisco, California band. Created in 1980 by members of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, they were described by The Advocate as "a non-official offshoot" of SFGMC along with three official subgroups. Automatic Pilot soon came into their own as an independent force, creating a niche at the fringe of the nascent gay musical movement and a new musical style.

They achieved notoriety early on with songs such as "Sit On My Face" and "Killer Purses" performed at benefits for the SFGMC, Theatre Rhinoceros, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. They derived their name from psychiatric testimony at Dan White's trial for killing Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

Charles Gain

Charles Gain (November 1, 1923 – August 21, 2018) was an American police official, who served first as police chief for Oakland, California, then as chief in San Francisco in the 1970s. He was born in Hanford, California.In 1975, Gain was appointed to run the San Francisco Police Department by Mayor George Moscone and served until 1980. After Gain began implementing reforms, such as switching police cars from their traditional black and white paint scheme to baby blue, the Police Officers Association held a no-confidence vote on him. After Moscone was assassinated in 1978, the union was influential in engineering Gain's replacement after the resulting White Night riots. He died from respiratory failure in August 2018 at the age of 94.

Consenting Adult Sex Bill

The Consenting Adult Sex Bill (Assembly Bill 489) is a consenting adult law, passed in California in 1975 and effective in January 1976, that repealed the sodomy law in California so that it applied only in criminal situations and made gay sex legal for the first time. George Moscone, an early proponent of gay rights, in conjunction with his friend and ally in the Assembly, Willie Brown, managed to get the bill passed, 21-20, repealing the existing Californian laws against sodomy. The amendment was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown. The Assembly had a much easier time passing the bill, with final vote on AB 489 being 45-26. Gov. Brown signed the bill on May 12, 1975.Assemblyman Brown introduced the bill in 1970, resulting in a five-year fight in the legislature.

Dan White

Daniel James White (September 2, 1946 – October 21, 1985) was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who killed San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, on Monday, November 27, 1978, at City Hall. In a controversial verdict that led to the coining of the legal slang "Twinkie defense", White was convicted of manslaughter rather than murder in the deaths of Milk and Moscone. White served five years of a seven-year prison sentence. Less than two years after his release he returned to San Francisco and committed suicide.

Eugene A. Brown

Eugene A. Brown (born 1937) was the Sheriff of the City and County of San Francisco from 1978-79. He was appointed by Mayor George Moscone in February 1978 after the abrupt resignation of then-Sheriff Richard Hongisto. His tenure was marked by the turmoil of the assassinations of Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, as well as the Jonestown Massacre of People's Temple adherents, the majority of whom were from the Bay Area. He was defeated in his bid for a full term as sheriff by Michael Hennessey in the fall of 1979. Prior to being appointed Sheriff, he worked in the United States Department of Justice and was a civil rights director in the Small Business Administration.

Gordon Lau

Gordon J. Lau (Chinese: 劉貴明; Jyutping: lau4 gwai3 ming4, August 22, 1941 – April 20, 1998) was the first Chinese American elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in San Francisco, California. He was elected to the city board of supervisors under Mayor George Moscone in 1977. Other notable supervisors at the time included Dianne Feinstein, Carol Ruth Silver, Quentin L. Kopp, Dan White, and Harvey Milk (the first openly gay individual to serve).

Harry Britt

Harry Britt (born June 8, 1938) is a political activist and former supervisor for San Francisco, California. Britt was involved during the late 1960s in the civil rights movement when he was a Methodist minister in Chicago. 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.Britt served as President of the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club. Additionally, he was elected to the Board of Supervisors in November 1979, 1980, 1984, and 1988 and served as President of the Board of Supervisors from 1989 to 1990. Britt was one of a few members of the Democratic Socialists of America to be elected to public office.Britt, who is 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. 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.Britt chose not to run for reelection in 1992.Britt ran unsuccessfully for California's 5th congressional district in 1987, narrowly losing to Nancy Pelosi in a special election to fill the seat left when Sala Burton died, with 36 percent of the vote to his 32 percent.

He also was unsuccessful in his race against Mark Leno for the California State Assembly in 2002.Britt directed the Weekend BA Degree Completion Program at New College of California, which closed in January 2008 due to financial problems.

Harvey Milk (opera)

Harvey Milk is an opera in three acts composed by Stewart Wallace to a libretto by Michael Korie. A joint commission by Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, and San Francisco Opera, it was premiered on January 21, 1995 by Houston Grand Opera. The opera is based on the life and death of the gay activist and politician Harvey Milk who was assassinated along with San Francisco's mayor George Moscone on November 27, 1978.

John Barbagelata

John Barbagelata (March 29, 1919 – March 19, 1994) was a San Francisco City Supervisor and 1975 mayoral candidate, when he narrowly lost to George Moscone. He was also the owner of a local real estate firm. As of 2018, he was the last Republican to be elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, in 1973.

Louise Renne

Louise Renne is a lawyer, former Supervisor and one-time City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, California. She was born to Anne Bartrem Hornbeck (1909 - 2001). She succeeded to Dianne Feinstein's post upon Feinstein succeeding George Moscone as mayor in 1978, and Renne served in the seat until 1986, when she resigned to accept Feinstein's appointment of her as City Attorney, succeeding George Agnost to become the first female City Attorney in San Francisco history. She served in the position until 2001 and was succeeded by current incumbent Dennis Herrera.

Renne is a founding partner at the law firm Renne Public Law Group LLP. She is a graduate of both Michigan State University and Columbia Law School (1961).

Milk (film)

Milk is a 2008 American biographical film based on the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Directed by Gus Van Sant and written by Dustin Lance Black, the film stars Sean Penn as Milk and Josh Brolin as Dan White, a city supervisor who assassinated Milk and Mayor George Moscone. The film was released to much acclaim and earned numerous accolades from film critics and guilds. Ultimately, it received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, winning two for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Penn and Best Original Screenplay for Black.

Attempts to put Milk's life to film followed a 1984 documentary of his life and the aftermath of his assassination, titled The Times of Harvey Milk, which was loosely based upon Randy Shilts's biography, The Mayor of Castro Street (the film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for 1984, and was awarded Special Jury Prize at the first Sundance Film Festival, among other awards). Various scripts were considered in the early 1990s, but projects fell through for different reasons, until 2007. Much of Milk was filmed on Castro Street and other locations in San Francisco, including Milk's former storefront, Castro Camera.

Milk begins on Harvey Milk's 40th birthday (in 1970), when he was living in New York City and had not yet settled in San Francisco. It chronicles his foray into city politics, and the various battles he waged in the Castro neighborhood as well as throughout the city, and political campaigns to limit the rights of gay people in 1977 and 1978 run by Anita Bryant and John Briggs. His romantic and political relationships are also addressed, as is his tenuous affiliation with troubled Supervisor Dan White; the film ends with White's double homicide of Milk and Mayor George Moscone. The film's release was tied to the 2008 California voter referendum on gay marriage, Proposition 8, when it made its premiere at the Castro Theatre two weeks before election day.


Moscone may refer to:

George Moscone (1929–1978), 37th Mayor of San Francisco, California, 1976–1978

Moscone–Milk assassinations, the murders that killed the Mayor and City Supervisor Harvey Milk

Moscone Center, a convention center in San Francisco's South of Market district, named for the Mayor

Moscone Recreation Center, a park in San Francisco's Marina district, also named for the Mayor

Jonathan Moscone (born 1964), American theater director

Moscone Center

The George R. Moscone Convention Center (pronounced ), popularly known as the Moscone Center, is the largest convention and exhibition complex in San Francisco, California. The complex consists of three main halls spread out across three blocks and 87 acres (35 ha) in the South of Market neighborhood. The convention center originally opened in 1981. It is named after San Francisco former mayor George Moscone, who was assassinated in November 1978.

Moscone–Milk assassinations

The Moscone–Milk assassinations were the killings of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, who were shot and killed in San Francisco City Hall by former Supervisor Dan White on November 27, 1978. White was angry that Moscone had refused to reappoint him to his seat on the Board of Supervisors, from which he had just resigned, and that Milk had lobbied heavily against his reappointment. These events helped bring national notice to then-Board President Dianne Feinstein, who became the first female mayor of San Francisco and eventually U.S. Senator for California.

White was subsequently convicted of voluntary manslaughter, rather than first-degree murder. The verdict sparked the "White Night riots" in San Francisco, and led to the state of California abolishing the diminished capacity criminal defense. It also led to the urban legend of the "Twinkie defense", as many media reports had incorrectly described the defense as having attributed White's diminished capacity to the effects of sugar-laden junk food. White committed suicide in 1985, a little more than a year after his release from prison.

Twinkie defense

"Twinkie defense" is a derisive label for an improbable legal defense. It is not a recognized legal defense in jurisprudence, but a catchall term coined by reporters during their coverage of the trial of defendant Dan White for the murders of San Francisco city Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. White's defense was that he suffered diminished capacity as a result of his depression. His change in diet from healthful food to Twinkies and other sugary foods was said to be a symptom of depression. Contrary to common belief, White's attorneys did not argue that the Twinkies were the cause of White's actions, but that their consumption was symptomatic of his underlying depression. White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

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