US Navy ship named after slain gay-rights leader

The US Navy has named a new refueling vessel after Harvey Milk, a former Navy diver who was discharged because of his sexuality and later became a gay-rights activist.

The USNS Harvey Milk was launched in San Diego, California, on Saturday. It is more than 220 meters long.

Milk was forced out of the Navy because of his sexuality in the 1950s -- a time when homosexuals were banned from serving in the military. He later became one of America's first openly gay activists elected to public office. He was shot dead by a former political colleague in 1978.

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro attended the ceremony on Saturday.
Del Toro said in a statement, "Leaders like Harvey Milk taught us that diversity of backgrounds and experiences help contribute to the strength and resolve of our nation."

The Navy earlier decided to name six new oilers after civil and human rights leaders, including Milk. The move was apparently made in response to criticism that biases and discrimination against sexual minorities still exist in the military.