In 1978, the first openly gay man to be elected to political office, Harvey Milk, was assassinated by Dan White, who also murdered San Francisco Mayor George Moscone only minutes before.
Dan White would later go on to defend himself by claiming that a diet of junk food had caused his “diminished mental capacity” that would be the center of his defense (known as “The Twinkie Defense”), and would prevent him from being charged with 1st Degree murder. White was found guilty, instead, of Voluntary Manslaughter – a lesser charge that would send him to prison only until 1984. Dan White would go on to commit suicide in 1985.
Dan White’s ridiculously lenient sentence would trigger the White Night Riots that would ultimately push gay rights to the forefront of San Francisco politics, and forever change the landscape of LGBTQ civil rights legislation.