When marchers leave the Castro and pull the trolley pole off a PCC streetcar, the destination sign says "F Market." The F Market line entered service on September 1, 1995, as a tourist line between the Castro and the Embarcadero.
When Harvey Milk moves from New York City to San Francisco, a shot of Highway 280 shows modern freeway signs (bright green, with exit numbers) instead of the 1970s versions (darker green, no exit numbers).
During rally scenes in the San Francisco Civic Center, the old and new San Francisco Public Library buildings are visible in the background. The New Main Branch Library, designed by Pei Cobb Freed, was built in 1995.
When Harvey Milk, Jack Lira, and a group of people stroll down Polk Street in the San Francisco Civic Center, the Civic Center Courthouse building is in the left background. In 1978, the San Francisco Superior Court was on the fourth floor of City Hall. The Civic Center Courthouse, designed by Hood Miller Associates and Ross Drulis Architects, was built in late 1997.
In the camera shop during Milk's 1973 campaign for supervisor, the song "Rock the Boat" by the Hues Corporation played in the background. But that song wasn't released until the summer of 1974, by which time Milk had already cut his hair short and was clean shaven. In the film the clean-cut Harvey Milk didn't appear until the beginning of the 1975 campaign.
At the beginning, when Scott and Harvey are lying in bed together, Scott tells Harvey he'll be "fat by 50." When the same scene is shown at the end of the film, Scott tells Harvey he is going to be "a fat ass."
According to title cards at the end of the film, Dan White's lawyers argued that consumption of junk food caused a chemical imbalance in his brain. White's lawyers actually claimed that massive consumption of junk food was a symptom of his depression, not a cause. Psychologists employed by White's defense argued that he was clinically depressed, as evidenced by changes in behavior, including consumption of large quantities of junk food. One psychologist claimed that junk food may have contributed to White's mood swings.
When Dan White's son is baptized, two godfathers and one godmother are at the altar. A Roman Catholic baptism includes one godfather and one godmother. Protestant baptisms include two godparents who are the same gender as the baby, and one of the other gender.
When Harvey and Dan are being interviewed on TV in January 1978, Dan says he's expecting his first child. At the baby's christening, which appears to take place a few weeks later, baby Charles can hold his head up. Babies can usually hold their heads up at around four months old. Also Charles White was born in mid-June 1978, after the contentious vote on the youth campus, and after Harvey's forty-eighth birthday in May. (Dan's grudge against Harvey developed before Charles's birth, but Harvey was still invited to the christening.)
The site of the Milk/Briggs debate is incorrectly identified as the Walnut Creek Unified School District. The debate was in the city of Walnut Creek, at Northgate High School, which was (and is) part of the Mount Diablo Unified School District.
A scene shows Harvey Milk at the opera during the last act of 'Tosca'. In the next scene, the next day, he says he saw Bidu Sayao, a Brazilian soprano, the night before. Harvey was referring to his date, not anyone on stage. Ms. Sayao never sang 'Tosca.'
While the Castro Street parking meters are historically correct, modern painted T-lines (to define each parking space) are visible. T-lines appear in the 1970s archival footage used in the 1984 documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk."
When the mayor is about to sign the ordinance, the pen is in his left hand, signaling that he's left-handed. However, the camera then cuts to a close-up to the Mayor signing the bill with his right hand. The close-up is an insert filmed with a right-handed actor.
The goof items below may give away important plot points.
When Scott leaves Harvey, Scott pets the family dog, which is sitting in an easy chair, and exits. Harvey paces around the room immediately after, and the chair is empty. When he sits in the chair opposite a second later, the dog is back, in the same position as before.