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Harvey Milk, George Moscone
and Dan White

by DW Sutton

SubheadingsGay Politics – 1977-1978    Heroes and Icons    Harvey Bernard Milk    Harvey Milk’s birthchart progressed – November 27, 1978    George Richard Mascone    George Moscone’s birthchart progressed – November 27, 1978    Heroes and Villains    Daniel James White    Dan White’s birthchart progressed – November 27, 1978    November 27, 1978 – The Inside Story    San Francisco – A City In Agony    Mars conjunction Neptune in the sky – November 25, 1978     Jim Jones and The People’s Temple    Jim Jones birthchart progressed to November 19, 1978    Aftermath    Dianne Feinstein’s chart progressed to November 27, 1978    All the chart data

An astro-analysis of what happened in San Francisco
on November 27, 1978

This world can be a dangerous place if you’re different. The dominant ‘orthodox’ culture has the numbers and it sets the rules. You comply, and if you don’t the consequences can be very unpleasant – even dire. Those who dare to do things differently – who go against the grain, disturb the status quo or hold unorthodox beliefs – are inclined to experience persecution, ridicule and open hostility. It pays to join forces with the conservative majority – there’s safety in numbers.

The history of the occult and astrology is one of persecution. The religious authorities deemed them dangerous so in order to survive the custodians of the hidden knowledge took their precious wisdom underground. A superficial version has always been out there in the public arena, and even though many ancient truths have been validated by new discoveries and scientific investigation they still remain out of sight. They’ve been silenced by orthodoxy.

Orthodox fundamentalist religion – which preaches what the Bible proclaims – vehemently opposes and openly attacks occult practices. It has no other choice. Occult (or hidden) information, like that provided by astrology and the tarot, can undermine its world-view. Fundamentalist religion sees these doctrines as the Devil’s workshop and its duty bound to combat God’s #1 enemy and all his blasphemous teachings. In the process it opposes the other person’s freedom to believe and worship what and who s/he chooses; and it seems that fundamentalist religion has every right to speak what it thinks and to constrain the beliefs of organizations that preach a different message. But despite its open and very often hostile opposition more than 100 million Americans believe in astrology and church attendances are down.

21C scientific rationalism – which preaches what materialism proclaims in the laboratory – also vehemently opposes and openly attacks occult information such as ESP and astrology. Orthodox science persecuted JB Rhine and ridiculed his research work on extra-sensory perception. It had no other choice – it undermined its materialistic world-view. It also derides and ridicules astrology, without investigation.

In astrology the marker for persecution and oppression is Pluto and both the perpetrator and the victim act on and experience destructive Lower-Pluto impulses. One – the perpetrator – persecutes, coerces and intimidates while the other – the victim – feels oppressed, harassed, frightened and threatened. The actual persecution behavior can be physical, mental, subtle, open, violent or non-violent. In one instance it involves physical coercion, oppression, torture, violent bullying and intimidation: And in the other threats, warnings, torment, ridicule, disparagement, mockery and derision.

Harvey Milk was different. He was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. And his story involved persecution, ridicule, politics, activism, hostile opposition and Pluto.

Gay Politics – 1977-1978

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The Gay Liberation movement was born in New York City on June 28, 1969. It was a violent birth and eight years later in 1977 the budding gay-rights agenda collided with a self-righteous Christian Fundamentalist – Anita Bryant. That year a civil rights ordinance had made discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal in Dade County, Florida and Bryant claimed the ordinance infringed her right to teach her children Biblical morality. And when her ‘Save Our Children’ campaign collected 64,000 signatures the issue was put to a county-wide vote. On voting day, June 7, 1977, 70% of Dade County voted to repeal the law. In San Francisco, Harvey Milk, led a 3000 strong protest march declaring ‘This is the power of the gay community. Anita’s going to create a national gay force.’ But Christian conservatives were inspired and in a domino effect civil rights ordinances were overturned by voters in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Wichita, Kansas and Eugene, Oregon.

Then, encouraged by Bryant’s success, California State Senator John Briggs decided to up the ante and at a press conference in San Francisco he called the city a ‘sexual garbage heap’ – due to its homosexual population. Random attacks on gays had been on the increase and on June 21, 1977 Robert Hillsborough, a gay man, died from 15 stab wounds while his attackers chanted ‘faggot’. Mayor George Moscone blamed Anita Bryant and John Briggs. In July 1977 250,000 people attended San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day parade; and in November voters decided to reorganize supervisor elections to choose supervisors from neighborhoods instead of voting for them in city-wide ballots. Harvey Milk qualified as the leading candidate in District 5.

Bryant’s religious inspired public campaign opposing homosexuality and gay-rights ordinances fueled gay politics in San Francisco and in District 5, surrounding Castro Street, more than half of the seventeen candidates were gay. Milk ran on a populist philosophy – ‘we have to make up for years of persecution’ – and on election-day he won. The death threats had started well before then.

Milk began his tenure by sponsoring a civil rights bill that outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and the bill passed with only one dissenting vote – Supervisor Dan White. Then in mid 1978, Proposition 6, a law that made firing gay teachers mandatory, was proposed by Senator John Briggs. Public support for the bill was running high, but Milk campaigned against it, debated John Briggs, got heavy-weight support from former California Governor Ronald Reagan and President Jimmy Carter and on November 7, 1978 the proposition lost by a million votes. Three days later Supervisor Dan White resigned his position on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, claiming his annual salary of $9,600 was not enough to support his wife and three children. On the same day, November 10, the signs in the sky turned dangerous. Mars – planet of violence, explosive aggression, guns and hate – moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with Neptune – planet of illusion, bondage, deception, confusion, poisoning and emotional drama. The aspect reached its critical state of peak discord on November 25, 1978.

Heroes and Icons

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As the 20th-century did a fade to black Time (magazine) paid tribute to the century’s most influential, memorable and inspiring people. In its June 14, 1999 edition it acknowledged the ‘Heroes and Icons of the 20th-Century’. One of the heroes – along side Charles Lindbergh, Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, Rosa Parks, Che Guevara, Anne Frank, Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, Helen Keller and the American G.I. – was Harvey Milk. In his introductory remarks Howard Chua-Eoan wrote:

‘We need our heroes to give meaning to time…for it is the heroes – through their triumphs and follies – who teach us how to live. They thrilled us and brought tears to our eyes. And we shaped our lives with the lessons of their fervor and folly, their tragedies and triumphs.’ Then, in a rather grand, but presumptuous tone he claimed: ‘The full moon, brilliant on a cloudless night, can humble, even the most heroic of monuments. Yet the moon is mute. And the magnificent swirl of the cosmos simply marks time: it cannot tell us history, cannot instruct us on what to remember, what to proscribe, what to avoid. Memory is born of biological time, and it is born on blood and bone and phlegm. Can the stars shudder at sacrifice?’

Yes Howard, they can: And they also produce heroes, icons, martyrs and villains.

Harvey Bernard Milk

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Harvey Milk was the younger son of Lithuanian Jewish parents. His family ran a successful retail clothing business and he played football at school and developed a passion for opera. It was all rather conventional except for one thing – he was gay.

After graduating from Bay Shore High School in Bay Shore, New York, he attended New York State College for Teachers. There he wrote for the college newspaper, kept his sexual orientation under wraps and majored in mathematics. He graduated in 1951 and joined the United States Navy – serving aboard the submarine rescue ship USS Kittiwake as a diving officer. He served in the Korean War and in 1955 was honorably discharged from the Navy. He then pursued a career as a high school teacher and in 1963 joined Bache & Co – a Wall Street Investment firm. In 1968 he moved to San Francisco. There he continued to work in finance but in 1970, after being fired from his job, he moved back to New York. Then, in 1972, he returned to San Francisco – captivated by the freedom and individuality the city promised. He opened Castro Camera on Castro Street, developed an interest in politics and soon found his vocation in life as a politician.

In 1973 Milk ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and lost. He ran again in 1975, but this time he made lifestyle changes and changed his appearance. He lost again, but George Moscone won; and even though he was losing he was gaining media attention and the villains weren’t cheering and the death threats steadily increased.

In 1976 Milk was appointed to the Board of Permit Appeals, but within five weeks Mayor Moscone was forced to fire him when he announced he would run for the California State Assembly. Then in 1977, with the new district elections system in place, Milk ran for a third time and won the seat for District 5, which included the Castro. He was the first openly gay man ever elected to public office in America. On January 9, 1978 he was sworn in along with social conservative Dan White who won the seat for District 8. As a supervisor Milk was pro-actively involved in several issues including programs for senior citizens, dog owners cleaning up after the pets, and accessible and comprehensible voting machines for all citizens. He also sponsored the landmark San Francisco gay rights ordinance. It was passed by the Board of Supervisors with only one dissenting vote – Dan White – and signed into law by Mayor George Moscone.

Harvey Milk’s birthchart progressed – November 27, 1978

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Some souls are astrologically designed to fight social injustice and oppression and when a social outcast responds to the call and takes up arms in the fight against what s/he perceives is persecution and social inequality the heavens rejoice. The ‘establishment’ these souls challenge and confront ever seeks to protect its position of special privilege and this makes genuine social progress a difficult and laborious political adjustment that plods along. Those at the top – or even half way up – the financial and social ladder do all they can to keep minority groups and the disadvantaged on the bottom rung. Progress takes place through a democratic political process, but when the oppression unjustly infringes on the soul’s human rights some souls feel compelled to become human rights activists. Harvey Milk was such a soul.

Pluto – the planet of universal welfare, humanitarianism, groups, cooperation, coercive politics and division – dominated Harvey Milk’s birthchart and he was intense, active, energetic and resourceful – never meek and mild. He was naturally inclined to join groups – to unite with others to accomplish a common purpose – and had an affinity for building coalitions. But Pluto was discordant and he was a divisive figure who employed coercion, manipulation and devious means to achieve his ends. 

On September 24, 1975 an assassination attempt on President Gerald Ford was foiled when Oliver ‘Bill’ Sipple grabbed the raised gun held by Sara Jane Moore. Sipple was gay and Harvey couldn’t resist the opportunity to tell the world that gays can do heroic things. Sipple refused to call himself a hero and didn’t want his sexuality disclosed, but Harvey contacted the San Francisco Chronicle and several days later Sipple was exposed as gay and a friend of Milk’s.

Pluto was in the second – Scorpio (sex) – decanate of Cancer and Harvey was engaged in a very personal struggle with his sensual desires and the limitations imposed by death. Intensely emotional he was mediumistic and he had a natural aptitude for spirit communion. And with Pluto in house 5 its life-matters and activities – his sex life, social ties, sporting interests, risk taking, a stage to perform on and the big screen – were influenced by coercion and compulsion.  His sex life was far from harmonious. Erratic and unstable it involved drastic (Pluto) events: And while Castro Street was his personal stage Hollywood did it bigger by providing him with a world-wide audience.

The planets in his chart with above average power were Saturn (loss, hardship, system and order), Jupiter (optimism, joviality, good-will and tolerance), Neptune (dramatic talent, sensitivity and promotional skills) and Moon (moods, curiosity, novelty and the public): And with Saturn, Neptune and Moon aspecting the dominant planet – Pluto – their astrological influence and importance were correspondingly upgraded. Pluto and its aspect structure detailed an astrological potential that played itself out as his life story.

Pluto formed a high-harmony luck (trine) aspect with the Moon – planet of adaptability and water – in house 1 (his personality). It was cusp ruler of house 6 (the navy) and provided him with extraordinary adaptation skills and Harvey – the self-conscious thinker – easily adjusted to his personal circumstances and the unconventional sexual desires – Mars conjunction Uranus – that were a prominent feature of his unconscious mental make-up. It also allowed him to take on the identity of the political underdog. The Moon was in the ‘self-sacrifice’ decanate of Pisces and Milk grasped, more readily than most, the true meaning of universal brotherhood: And even though his own life was filled with restriction and limitation he worked to alleviate the mental suffering of those like him. He suffered persecution and martyrdom so that others might benefit.

And with Pluto forming a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with Mars – planet of strife, haste, energetic effort, guns and violence – in house 2 (money) he was hyperactive and prone to fantastic outbursts of temper: And by simply being who he was he was naturally inclined to attract strife, dissension and hostility. ‘The first step is always hostility, and after that you can sit down and talk about it.’

As a Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Milk received an annual salary of $9,600 and in October 1978, due to severe financial problems, he was forced (Pluto) to close Castro Camera. At this time in his chart progressed Mars (at 26 Taurus 32) – ruler of house 2 – had moved to form an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with birthchart Saturn – planet of loss, hardship and closures; progressed Sun (at 16 Cancer 39) had moved to form a friction (semisquare) aspect with progressed Neptune (at 1 Virgo 39) – planet of cameras; and progressed MC (his business interests at 25 Capricorn 51) in house 12 (disappointments) had formed an expansion (inconjunct) aspect with birthchart Venus.

Mars was conjunction Uranus and even though they were the weakest planets in his chart their square aspect to the dominant planet, Pluto, not only enhanced their influence it increased – at astrologically dangerous moments – their potential for discord, harm and misadventure. And with Pluto forming a high-discord separation (opposition) aspect with Saturn – planet of loss, work and responsibility in house 11 (friends) – his struggle involved heavy losses and distressful separations from friends and lovers. Saturn – the planet of system and cold-hard reason – was discordant and while his political campaigns were a study in disorganization he realistically accepted the possibility of his own assassination.

The evidence suggests that his life lacked deep meaning and purpose until 1972 when he moved to San Francisco and discovered his passion for politics and fighting for the rights of others. In his chart at this time progressed Mercury had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Venus in house 4 (re-location and home-life changes); progressed MC had formed a separation (opposition) aspect with progressed Pluto – the human-rights activist; and progressed Sun – the planet of politics – had formed a separation (opposition) aspect with birthchart Saturn.

Birthchart Pluto formed an (obstacle) square aspect with Uranus in house 2 (finances). Uranus is the planet of gay activism, bizarre behavior, extreme events, unforeseen developments, disclosure and personal revelation and Harvey did not feel the need to ‘come out’ and emerge from the shadows of his homosexuality till around age 40. At this time (1970) in his chart progressed Venus had moved to form a luck (trine) aspect with birthchart Uranus – the ‘coming-out’ planet.

Pluto formed a friction (semisquare) aspect with Neptune – planet of deception, schemes, cameras, submarines, diving, drama and films – in house 7 (partnership, the public, open conflict and the enemy): And vague and dreamy Neptune was a very powerful influence in his life. It formed a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with the Sun – the worst aspect in the chart – and this very nebulous stellar structure distorted his sense of self-importance, over-stated what he could achieve politically, exaggerated his expectations and sourced misguided imaginings and theatrical behavior.

Pluto formed an intensity (parallel) aspect with the Midheaven – his business interests, reputation and publicity – and Milk was relentless in his pursuit of attention. He needed to be out there simply because he knew that the root cause of the gay predicament was invisibility and he used his astrological resources as best he could. He grabbed media attention, showed community leadership and pulled publicity stunts. But the story didn’t centre on his being gay. ‘It’s just about a gay person who is doing his job’. His reputation has continued to grow and Harvey, the political activist, has now become a gay icon.

The Moon-Pluto trine marked for good-luck and fortunate associations when working with groups, but the Saturn-Uranus-Pluto T-square told a difficult story. It marked for coercion, harassment, threats, heavy losses, extreme events and drastic developments. Yet in spite of the struggles, set-backs and disappointments Milk remained optimistic. Jupiter – the planet of hope and optimism – had prominence status and his home (Jupiter in house 4 conjunction Venus) was his safe haven and place of contentment.

The altruistic sign Aquarius was on the ascendant and Harvey was a humanitarian who saw the big picture. The need to liberate himself from the social persecution expanded to embrace ‘that poor runaway kid from San Antonio’. The Moon was in sympathetic Pisces and he felt for the oppressed and persecuted: And with the Sun in clever Gemini – forming a conjunction aspect with intelligent Mercury in house 3 (newspapers) – he had savvy media skills and was smart (Mercury) at getting media attention and press coverage. He never missed a chance to get publicity and to promote himself and what he stood for. And with Scorpio (Mars and Pluto) on the cusp of house 9 (public speaking) his speeches were fiery and flamboyant.

Pluto stands for spiritual endeavor and Harvey stood for gay-rights – the right to live your life, and pursue happiness, free from discrimination based upon sexual orientation – and his gay activism – his desire to alleviate the suffering of many gay people – was simply his spiritual engine (Pluto) doing its thing. He probably never experienced the hostile ostracism faced by many members of the gay community yet he empathized with their plight.

With Pluto his dominant planet Harvey was electrically tune into the planet’s spiritual message, but the spirituality he felt was not some vague mystical state of mind (Neptune). It was a powerful noble emotion that drove him to gay activism and political office. His spirituality had high personal value and it gave him meaning and purpose: And by contributing to what he thought was a worthwhile social cause he experienced an elevated sense of spiritual wellbeing. But because of Pluto’s extreme nature it also had him walking and talking with the sordid, vulgar and corrupt and it brought him in contact with sinister groups – in particular the People’s Temple. Its leader Jim Jones was politically powerful in San Francisco and Temple members worked as volunteers on Harvey’s political campaigns. He seemed to be aware of the situation and summed up the group as: ‘they’re weird and they’re dangerous, and you never want to be on their bad side.’

Harvey’s experience with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors was a tough, combative, political fight. The passing of new legislation required discussion, cooperation and collaboration, but the Board (Pluto) was split into rival factions and this resulted in dissension and personal animosity. Harvey was clever, astute and intelligent (Sun in Gemini), mentally conceited (Moon square Jupiter), knowledgeable and very good at debating (ascendant in Aquarius) and he no doubt riled the less adroit members of the board. And while his outrageous and bizarre behavior (Mars conjunction Uranus) was simply his misguided individualistic urge (Uranus) seeking to shock and offend it no-doubt caused the more conservative board members to feel ill at ease. Like everyone he was born with an astrological starter pack and his personal success required the constructive, effective and sustained development of the resources, skills and abilities it contained. There’s no doubt that he did things in the only way he could – what you do is what you know – but with a little bit of astrological guidance he could have done it a whole lot better.

George Richard Mascone

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George Moscone was born and raised in San Francisco. He had a Catholic education – studied law at Hastings College – served in the United States Navy – met and married Gina Bondanza in 1954 – (their marriage produced four children) – and in 1956 started a private law practice. In 1966 Moscone, a progressive democrat, ran for and won a seat in the California State Senate and was elected by his party to serve as Majority Leader. By 1974 he was a proponent of gay rights and in 1975 ran for Mayor of San Francisco. In the mandated runoff election in December he narrowly defeated his conservative opponent. Members of the religious sect, the People’s Temple, worked to get out the vote and were instrumental in his success, and Moscone appointed Temple Leader, Jim Jones, as Chairman of the San Francisco Housing Commission.

In November 1977 the city’s first district elections for Board of Supervisors took place and among those elected were the first openly gay Supervisor, Harvey Milk, attorney and women’s rights advocate Carol Ruth Silver and conservative fireman and former police officer Dan White. Dianne Feinstein, heading a loosely organized coalition to oppose Moscone and his initiatives, was elected President of the Board on a 6-5 vote.

This ‘set-up’ set the scene for dissension and division and on November 10, 1978, when Dan White resigned from the board, George Moscone was in a position to tip the Board’s balance of power in his favor. Recognizing this, the more conservative board members got White to change his mind and on November 14 White asked Moscone to reappoint him to his former seat. Moscone initially indicated a willingness to consider White’s request, but the more liberal board members, including Harvey Milk, lobbied him against the idea. In the end Moscone decided not to reappoint White and announced he would name Dan White’s replacement on November 27, 1978.

George Moscone’s birthchart progressed – November 27, 1978

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The Sun, planet of politics, dominated George Moscone’s astrological profile and he was a natural born politician. Mercury – planet of perception and intelligence – and Mars – planet of aggression, strife and violence – were conjunction Sun – and all three planets had above average power. This prominent, high-powered, astrological hot-spot formed an extra-lucky grand trine with liberal and progressive Uranus and the MC (his career) and a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with Neptune – planet of idealism, deception and vagueness in house 11 (his friends and supporters). Communication (Mercury) was his forte and vagueness (Neptune) was his undoing. The Sun-MC trine delivered political success and the Mars-Neptune square signed for dangerous deception. Both Mars and Neptune were high in discord and Mars – cusp ruler of house 7 (open enemies) – formed an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with Pluto – planet of groups and coercion – in house 9 (law). The Mars situation demanded vigilant risk-management and, at astrologically hazardous times, a reduced exposure to danger.

The Sun-Mars conjunction was in the first – devotion – decanate of Sagittarius and George Moscone was a religious man who, on occasions, experienced cosmic consciousness. He felt impressed to fulfil a definite mission and when he followed his ‘inner voice’ he invariably made the right decision. It was only when he acted on the advice of others that he invited mishap, misfortune and failure.

The Moon was in the second – experience – decanate of Virgo and Moscone’s life was filled with an exceptional variety of good and evil experiences. He talked with the honest and walked with the corrupt. He had a diplomatic mind, strong powers of discernment and comparison and a strong desire for fame and glory. The ascendant in the third – expiation – decanate of Libra marked for a peculiar fatality and the only way Moscone could avoid tragedy and ‘paying the penalty’ was to lead a straight forward moral life free from corruption. But with the Moon in the second decanate of Virgo the temptations were going to be great.

In December 1975 when George Moscone was elected Mayor of San Francisco progressed ascendant in his chart (at 1 Sagittarius 41) had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Sun – planet of politics – co-ruler of house 10 (getting the job) – Leo is intercepted; and progressed Sun (at 18 Capricorn 34) had moved to form an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with birthchart Neptune – planet of schemes and idealism – and an opposition (separation) aspect with progressed Pluto (at 18 Cancer 32R) – planet of groups and the People’s Temple. Progressed Venus (at 11 Capricorn 49) had moved to form a luck (trine) aspect with birthchart Moon – planet of the people – the cusp ruler of house 10 (career advancement); and progressed Mercury (at 7 Aquarius 08) had formed a luck (trine) aspect with progressed Jupiter (at 7 Gemini 09R) – a very fortunate rallying force that provided him with the extra bit of luck that allowed him to win the very close Mayoral election.

Heroes and Villains

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Dan White, the villain in the story, was a troubled antigay conservative and I suppose there are some who would see him as a hero. Your world-view is determined by your conditioning by environment, family values and education, but the fact that brothers and sisters often develop different, contradictory viewpoints on the same matter reveals that there’s something else going on besides environment. This of course is the original astrological script. It contains good (harmonious) and bad (discordant) sectors that display themselves as constructive and destructive mental attributes. Your job, as the self-conscious thinker, is to ensure that your viewpoints are constructive, worthwhile and socially beneficial. But the potential for astrological discord to display itself as destructive anti-social behavior is very high – you can watch it on the 6 o’clock news every night – and that’s why laws are passed to regulate human behavior. The police uphold the law, but there’s no guarantee that things will always work out the way they’re supposed to.

Daniel James White

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Dan White was a family values Catholic conservative. The second of ten children he was raised by working-class parents in a Roman Catholic household and attended Riordan High School in San Francisco. In 1965 he enlisted in the army and spent a year in Vietnam as a paratrooper. After being discharged in 1972 he returned to San Francisco where he worked as a police officer and firefighter. The San Francisco Chronicle described him as a high-achieving ‘all American boy.’

In the 1977 San Francisco Board of Supervisor’s election White won the seat for District 8: And on January 9, 1978 he was sworn in along side gay-liberal Harvey Milk. Despite their personal differences both men initially worked well together, but in April 1978, when the Catholic Church proposed the establishment of a mental health facility for juvenile offenders who had committed murder and other crimes in his District, White strongly opposed the proposition and Milk supported it: And this falling out sowed the seeds for conflict. White then opposed every initiative and issue Milk supported (and frequently clashed with other board members.) He cast the only vote in opposition to San Francisco’s landmark gay rights ordinance that was passed by the board and signed by Mayor Moscone in 1978.

On November 10, 1978 ten months after he was sworn in, Supervisor White resigned his position citing dissatisfaction with the corrupt inner-workings of San Francisco city politics and the difficulty of making a living and supporting his family on an annual salary of $9,600 without a police officer’s or firefighter’s salary. He had opened a potato restaurant at Pier 39, but it failed to become profitable. Then on November 14, after his supporters lobbied him to withdraw his resignation, he met with Mayor Moscone and requested his reinstatement and initially the Mayor agreed. But then, following the intervention of the other more liberal supervisors, in particular Harvey Milk, Moscone reversed his position and announced that he would name Dan White’s replacement on November 27, 1978.

Dan White’s birthchart progressed – November 27, 1978

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Mars – the planet of war, policemen, firefighters, aggression, impulsivity, resentment, adrenalin, guns and strife – dominated Dan White’s astrological profile. It was in house 1 (his personality) and he was described as having a pugilistic temper, a very short fuse, and an impressive capacity for nurturing a grudge. Extremely competitive, he found defeat difficult to take. Mars formed a high-powered prominence (conjunction) aspect with the ascendant and a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with the MC – the worst aspect in the chart – and these two aspects shaped his life experience. Mars and the ascendant were in the second – independence – decanate of Libra and while White was an exponent of liberty, (the ascendant and Mars were trine Uranus – planet of liberty), he also felt it his duty to destroy those who opposed his world-view. Mars was cusp ruler of house 7 (marriage, open opposition and the enemy) and his military mindset saw Harvey Milk and George Moscone as representing all that was wrong with the world.

Uranus (the planet of independence and extreme views), Jupiter (the planet of goodwill, tolerance and his Catholic religion), Pluto (the planet of cooperation, coercion, groups and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors) and Venus (planet of affection, social fun and companionship) all had above average power: And the Venus-Jupiter conjunction in house 1 (his personality) was the dominant and most harmonious aspect in the chart. Jupiter – the planet of abundance and law – was cusp ruler of house 3 (his siblings) and it formed a luck (trine) aspect with Uranus in house 9 (court cases).

The Sun – planet of self-esteem, conscientiousness and self-control – in the first – achievement – decanate of Virgo was the weakest planet in his chart and White lacked authority, and the ability to dominate others and get his own way. But the know-how and talent he acquired as a paratrooper, policeman and firefighter provided a rich harvest of experience that spurred him on to greater personal accomplishment.

On January 9, 1978 when he was sworn in is a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors the progressed Sun in his chart (at 10 Libra 11) – planet of achievement – had moved to form a growth (semisextile) aspect with birthchart Sun; progressed ascendant (at 10 Scorpio 15) had moved to form an opportunity (sextile) aspect with birthchart Sun; and progressed MC (at 15 Leo 40) – getting the job – had moved to form an opportunity (sextile) aspect with birthchart Mars.

The Moon in the third – attainment – decanate of Scorpio marked for intense emotions and vivid ideas. White had a spirit of chivalry and a personal sense of being of value to his country but he needed a female companion to stimulate his ambitions: And his social usefulness was greatly influenced – for better or worse – by his social life (Venus).

The self-conscious thinker that Dan White identified as ‘I’ had to deal with the unconscious mental activity that represented his character and his low-level self-control (weak Sun) found the powerful aggressive Mars impulses difficult to manage. As a paratrooper, policeman and fireman he was operating in a comfortable environment with like-minded souls, but when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of supervisors (with progressed Mars sesquisquare birthchart Uranus) the radical change in circumstance was a whole new ball-game that he found hard to handle. The Moon (his mentality) in the discordant second house (financial difficulties) formed a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with Mercury (his objective thinking and problem solving skills) and when the financial stress escalated (Mars was cusp ruler of house 2) he was prone to crack under the mental strain. Mars saw the solution as shooting the enemy and he dealt with the financial problems and the opposition he confronted on the Board of Supervisors in exactly the same way as he dealt with the enemy in Vietnam. Saturn and Pluto were in the high-discord tenth house and Mars formed a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with the MC – an astrological scenario that eventually played itself out as a ruined reputation, public hate and an appalling, shameful legacy.

November 27, 1978 – The Inside Story

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Mayor George Moscone was to name Dan White’s replacement to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors at a press conference on November 27, 1978, but on November 14 White had spoken with Moscone requesting his reinstatement. This was a tipping point and when the Mayor refused White became mentally unstable. He was angry with Moscone for turning down his request and Harvey Milk for lobbying against it. On the morning of November 27 – half an hour before the press conference – White entered San Francisco City Hall via a basement window (to avoid metal detectors) and made his way to the Mayor’s office. He confronted Moscone and made a final plea to be reinstated as supervisor, but Moscone again turned him down. Witnesses then heard shouting and gunshots. White shot the mayor once in the arm and three times in the head. He then went to his former office reloading his police-issue revolver along the way and intercepted Harvey Milk. He asked Harvey to step inside and shot him five times – twice in the head at close range.

On November 27, 1978 in Harvey Milk’s chart progressed Mars (at 26 Taurus 37) – planet of guns and violence – had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Mercury – co-ruler of house 7 (open enemies), Virgo is intercepted; an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with birthchart Saturn in house 11 – cusp ruler of house 1 (his physical self); and a luck (trine) aspect with progressed MC (publicity) at 25 Capricorn 57 in house 12. Progressed Venus (at 24 Leo 14) – cusp ruler of house 8 (death) – had moved to form a high discord separation (opposition) aspect with birthchart ascendant (him). And progressed Sun (at 16 Cancer 46) – in house 5 (risk) – had moved to form a friction (semisquare) aspect with progressed Neptune (at I Virgo 39) in house 7. It activated their birthchart square, added to the first and seventh house discord and increased the level of risk. With progressed Mars conjunction birthchart Mercury two bullets entered his brain (Mercury).

In George Moscone’s chart progressed ascendant (at 3 Sagittarius 57) – his physical self – had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Mars – planet of violent attacks and shootings – cusp ruler of house 7 (open enemies); a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with birthchart Neptune; and an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with birthchart Pluto – planet of drastic events. Progressed Sun (at 21 Capricorn 35) – co-ruler of house 10 (public notice) – had moved to form an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with progressed Jupiter (at 6 Gemini 57R) in house 8 (death). And progressed Moon (at 17 Gemini 18) in house 8 (death) had formed an obstacle (square) aspect with progressed MC – and his death received wide publicity.

In Dan White’s chart progressed Mars (at 6 Scorpio 56) – planet of guns and violent attacks and cusp ruler of house 7 (the enemy) – had moved to form a high-discord (exact square) aspect with progressed Saturn (at 6 Leo 56); and a high-discord agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with birthchart Uranus – planet of extreme behavior: And progressed Mercury (at 25 Libra 26) – planet of rational thought and premeditated intent in  the decanate of expiation – had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Venus – cusp ruler of house 8 (death).

San Francisco – A City In Agony

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November 1978 was an eventful month for California and San Francisco. John Brigg’s radical initiative Prop 6 went to the polls on November 7. It would have banned gays and lesbians and possibly anyone who supported gay rights from working in California’s public schools. Gay men and lesbians couldn’t be teachers, administrators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, or even janitors: And the pre-election polls indicated huge public support for the initiative. But Harvey Milk in San Francisco staged a political coup by getting Briggs to accept a one-on-one debate. Milk won the debate easily and that’s when politicians from across the political spectrum – President Jimmy Carter and former California Governor Ronald Reagan – began calling for its defeat. Prop 6 lost by over a million votes and the gay community rejoiced.

Then on November 10 – the day Dan White resigned from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors – the signs in the sky turned dangerous. Mars – planet of guns, violence, shootings, hate and reckless destruction – moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with Neptune – planet of idealism, misguided mysticism, illusion, emotional confusion, unreality, bondage and poisoning. And over the next two weeks the potential for destruction and disaster gradually increased. The aspect reached its peak power and discord on November 25, 1978. At San Francisco the Mars-Neptune conjunction was in house 7 (off-shore events) and the high-discord obstacle (square) aspect it formed with Saturn upped its destructive potential.

Mars conjunction Neptune in the sky – November 25, 1978

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Jim Jones and The People’s Temple

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In August 1977 Jim Jones – San Francisco’s Housing Commission Chairman – fled to Jonestown, Guyana following media scrutiny alleging criminal wrongdoing. And over the next few months members of his People’s Temple religious sect followed their leader. Later, Mayor Moscone announced his office would not investigate Jones or the People’s Temple. Then on November 18, 1978 news broke of the murder of California Representative, Leo Ryan, who had gone to Jonestown to check on the remote community. The next day news came of the cult’s mass suicide.  Jim Jones had forced his followers to drink a mixture of Kool Aid and cyanide and over 900 people died in the mass poisoning (Neptune). Most of the dead were ex-residents of the Bay Area and Leo Ryan was a resident of San Francisco. The city was plunged into mourning.

Jim Jones birthchart progressed to November 19, 1978

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Jupiter and Pluto dominated Jones’s birthchart, and he was a religious dictator with incredible powers of persuasion (Pluto). Their conjunction in house 7 (the other person) formed a high-discord opposition aspect with Saturn in house 1 and a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with the Moon and Uranus in house 3: And with birthchart Sun square Mars in house 8 he was a sinister (Pluto) and highly destructive individual. On November 18, 1978 progressed ascendant in his chart – at 11S22 – had moved to form an intensity (parallel) aspect with birthchart Neptune – planet of poisoning in house 8 (death); and progressed Venus (at 19 Gemini 05) had moved to form a semisextile (growth) aspect with birthchart Pluto – planet of groups and diabolical behavior – activating their birthchart square.

Then on November 27, 1978, two day’s after the Mars-Neptune conjunction in the sky reached its critical peak power and discord date, the Milk-Moscone shootings again plunged San Francisco into a state of shock and mourning.

Aftermath

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Dianne Feinstein, President of the Board of Supervisors, heard the shots and called the police. She found Milk lying face down on the floor and in a state of shock identified the bodies. She announced to the press, ‘Today San Francisco has experienced a double tragedy of immense proportions. As President of the Board of Supervisors, it is my duty to inform you that Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed and the suspect is Supervisor Dan White.’

Dianne Feinstein’s chart progressed to November 27, 1978

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In Dianne Feinstein’s chart on November 27, 1978 progressed Mars (at 17 Libra 47) – planet of guns and violence – the ruler of house 6 (her work associates) and cusp ruler of house 8 (death) – had moved to form a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with birthchart Venus in house 4; progressed Sun (at 13 Leo 49) – planet of politicians and ruler of house 3 (the press) – had moved to form a high-discord separation aspect with progressed Saturn (at 12 Aquarius 58R) – cusp ruler of house 10 (publicity); and progressed Venus (at 12 Virgo14) – in house 6 (fellow workers) – had moved to form an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with progressed Uranus (at 27 Aries 24R) – planet of shocks and unforeseen events – in house 1 (her personality).

On December 4, 1978 she was sworn in as Mayor, served for ten years, and would later emerge as one of California’s most prominent politicians.

After the shootings Dan White fled City Hall and within an hour called his wife. Escorted by her he turned himself in. He admitted the murders and on November 28, 1978 was charged with first-degree murder. He was eligible for the death penalty and held without bail.

Harvey Milk’s body was cremated and his ashes scattered in San Francisco Bay and buried beneath the sidewalk in front of 575 Castro Street where Castro Camera had been located. George Moscone was interred at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California.

At Dan White’s trial his defense argued diminished responsibility, mostly due to depression, and the jury, mostly middle class Catholics, was clearly sympathetic. His defense argued he was not capable of premeditating his act of violence and was thus not legally guilty of first-degree murder: And the jury bought it. A forensic psychiatrist testified that White was suffering from depression pointing out that he wasn’t eating his usual healthy diet, but a diet high in junk foods and sugary drinks – the ‘Twinkie’ defense. On May 21, 1979 the jury found White guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than first degree murder and he was sentenced to serve seven and two-thirds years. With the sentence reduced for time served and good behavior, he would be released in five. He cried when he heard the verdict.

At the time of the murders White’s mind was under severe stress as indicated by his progressed chart. The image in the chart is an exact match of his mental state. He was struggling to maintain control of his life and, in particular, his financial situation. In the chart the Moon in house 2  (finances) marked for a very changeable and unstable financial situation and its high-discord obstacle (square) aspect to Mercury placed severe stress on his rational thought processes and nerves. In March 1977 progressed Mars – the high-discord dominant planet and cusp ruler of house 2 (his personal finances) – had moved to form a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with progressed Saturn – planet of loss and hardship – in house 10 (business). This destructive mix of aggressive-fear thinking (Mars and Saturn) resulted in dietary deficiencies (Saturn) and a chemical imbalance that displayed itself as adrenal burnout depression (Mars and Saturn): And as the level of discord escalated so did the obstacles and financial difficulties. The aspect reached its critical peak discord date on November 27, 1978.

The astrological evidence reveals that Mars is a poor self-observer and he’s not inclined to calmly and rationally assess life’s problems. Mars is much more inclined to point the blame and seek payback: And that’s what Dan White’s conditioned response to conflict would have been and all his associates – his siblings, friends and workmates – should have known it. He was having a very difficult time, but his ‘now’ astrology revealed that there was powerful astrological help at hand….if only. Progressed Mercury (at 25 Libra 26) – the planet of communication and problem solving – had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Jupiter – the planet of financial support – and he must have said something (Mercury) to his siblings or work mates (Jupiter rules house 3 and house 6) about his financial and other problems. But nobody read the signs correctly and in the end the Mercury-Jupiter conjunction provided assistance that turned out to be of no help at all.

On May 21, 1979, the day Dan White was found guilty of manslaughter, progressed Mars in his chart (at 7 Scorpio 16) had moved to form an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with progressed Uranus – planet of unexpected developments – in house 9 (the court case and jury); and a growth (semisextile) aspect with birthchart Neptune in house 12 (prison). Progressed Mercury (at 26 Libra 11) – the decanate of expiation – cusp ruler of house 9 (the jury) and house 12 (prison) – had formed prominence (conjunction) aspects with birthchart Jupiter (planet of leniency) and birthchart Venus (planet of sugar and high-sugar junk food): And progressed Sun (at 11 Libra 32) in house 12 had moved to form an opportunity (sextile) aspect with birthchart Pluto in house 10 (the judge). And after the jury gave its decision mayhem erupted on the streets of San Francisco.

Acting Mayor Feinstein, Supervisor Ruth Silver and Harvey Milk’s successor, Harry Britt, all condemned the decision and as the groundswell of anger escalated a mob of 3000 went on a destructive rampage. The police were ordered to hold their ground, and not retaliate, but later in the evening several police cruisers filled with officers wearing riot gear stormed the Elephant Walk Bar in Castro Street and began to beat patrons at random. The White Night riots lasted several hours. By morning 61 police officers and 100 rioters and gay residents of the Castro had been hospitalized. On May 20, 1979, the day before Dan White was found guilty of manslaughter, Mars in the sky – the planet of angry rampages and police beatings – was square Jupiter – the planet of judges and court decisions. In the San Francisco chart Mars was in house 9 and the jury’s verdict in the court case ignited a violent (Mars) response.

Dan White served little more than five years for the double murder. He was paroled on January 6, 1984 – a very troubled soul. Dianne Feinstein, who feared for her safety, issued a public statement asking White not to return to San Francisco, but he did – attempting to restore his life with his wife Mary Ann and their three children.

Later that year White confessed to Frank Falzon (the homicide inspector with the San Francisco police to whom he had turned himself in) that he had the intention of not only killing Moscone and Milk, but another supervisor, Carol Ruth Silver, and (the future Mayor of San Francisco) Willie Brown. Falzon stated ‘I felt like I had been hit by a sledge-hammer…I found out it was premeditated murder.’

Dan White failed to rebuild his shattered life and on October 22, 1985 committed suicide. He was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in a running car in his ex-wife’s garage. He was 39 years old. By then the level of discord in his chart had escalated. Having been raised in the Catholic faith White was unable to reconcile his own destructive behavior with the teachings of his church – a situation mapped in his chart by progressed Jupiter (at 3 Scorpio 26) – his religious teachings – having moved to form a high-discord obstacle (square) with birthchart Saturn – planet of loss, guilt, remorse, grief and anguish. His destructive past had become a nightmare memory and there was no escaping the mental torment.

The day Dan White took his own life progressed Mars in his chart (at 11 Scorpio 41) – the planet of destruction in house 1 (him) – had moved to form a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with birthchart Pluto – planet of drastic events; and progressed Venus (at 27 Scorpio 50) – cusp ruler of house 8 (death) – had moved to form a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with birthchart Mercury. He left a note (Mercury) in which he ‘apologized for all the trouble his death would cause’: And California abolished the diminished capacity criminal defense.

What happened in San Francisco in November 1978 was a local historical event. The outside world didn’t know about Harvey Milk and what happened that fateful day. After the initial shock the city settled down into its normal, routine, daily existence while, Harvey Milk, has grown, and continues to grow, in stature. He’s now become ‘a symbol of what gays can accomplish and the dangers they face in doing it’ – and The Advocate listed Milk third in their ‘40 Heroes’ of the 20th century’ issue. It quoted Dianne Feinstein: ‘His homosexuality gave him an insight into the scars which all oppressed people wear. He believed that no sacrifice was too great a price to pay for the cause of human rights.’ His astrological profile displayed a preparedness to pay the highest price of all – and he did.

Then in 2008 Harvey Milk’s political life was portrayed on the big screen by Director Gus Van Sant. Filmed in San Francisco, the film used flashbacks to trace Milk’s life and career from his 40th birthday. Sean Penn played Harvey Milk and on February 22, 2009 at the Academy Awards his performance won the Oscar for Best Actor.

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The fight for human rights and equality is not without peril and both Harvey Milk and George Moscone paid the ultimate price. Assassination provided Harvey with something rarely given to gay men – public empathy, hero status and Hollywood celebrity. His life pays testimony to the perils of earthly existence and the dangers of being different. According to Time (magazine) he was ‘the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the history of the planet.’

Today he and George Moscone are both mourned as martyrs of the gay-rights movement.

All the chart data:

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Harvey Milk – business owner, politician and gay-activist – was born May 22, 1930 at 1.30am EDT – Woodmere, New York (40N35; 73W42). Jim Lewis quotes him so the data has an A-rating.

George Moscone – politician and Mayor of San Francisco – was born November 24, 1929 at 4.00am PST – San Francisco, California (37N47; 122W26). Doris Chase Doane quotes the birth certificate so the data has a AA-7 rating.

Dan White: – paratrooper, policeman, fireman and politician – was born September 2, 1946 at 8.13am PST – Bellflower, California (33N53; 118W09). Victoria Shaw quotes the birth certificate so the data has a AA-1 rating

Mars conjunction Neptune San Francisco: November 25, 1978 at 4.45pm PST – 37N47; 122W56.  Time from Rosicrucian Ephemeris – 1900-2000.

Jim Jones – leader of the People’s Temple and cult figure – was born May 13, 1931 at 10.00pm CST – Lynn Indiana (40N03; 84W56). Frank C Clifford quotes register of births so the data has a AA-7 rating.

Dianne Feinstein – politician, senator and Mayor of San Francisco – was born June 22, 1933 at 12.44am PST – San Francisco, California (37N47; 122W26). Jack Fertig quotes the birth certificate so the data has a AA-1 rating.

For more information and life-data google Harvey Milk, George Moscone, Dan White, Jim Jones or Dianne Feinstein or go to their entries on Astro-databank.

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