POLITICS

Obama Designates New National Monument At Stonewall Inn

This is the first monument honoring the struggle for LGBT rights.

President Barack Obama will officially designate a new national monument at the site of the Stonewall uprising to honor the struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the United States, the White House announced Friday. 

Patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City, fought back against harassment and police raids in June 1969, sparking other riots and protests against the criminalization of homosexuality.

Stonewall will be the first site in the National Park Service that recognizes the struggle for LGBT rights.

"I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country, the richness and diversity an uniquely American spirit that has always defined us," Obama says in a video about the designation. "That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one."

Other advocates echoed the idea that the inn is part of U.S. history.

"There are places in America so powerful, they helped shape our nation’s history and culture, and must never be forgotten," Theresa Pierno, president of the National Parks Conservation Association, said in a statement. "Stonewall Inn, and the area surrounding this historic site, is one such place."

"LGBT history is American history, and it’s vital for our stories to be told and retold and remembered,” said Tim Gill, co-chair of Gill Foundation, an LGBT philanthropic organization that advocated for Stonewall’s inclusion and funded a study on potential LGBT historic sites for the park service. "The designation of Stonewall today helps to ensure that legacy for generations to come.”

An announcement about the monument has been expected for some time, and comes ahead of the 47th anniversary of the uprising and the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage throughout the country. It also comes nearly two weeks after a mass shooting at gay club in Orlando, Florida, left 49 people dead and brought new attention to violence against LBGT people.

“There is no better time to acknowledge Stonewall as a national monument -- a place that is central to our history and our values, not only as a city but as a nation,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

The new monument protects 7.7 acres of land in Greenwich Village, including the inn, Christopher Park and surrounding streets and sidewalks, the White House said.

"Although the LGBT civil rights movement has made significant progress in the pursuit of equal rights and protections under the law, there is still more work to do," the White House said in a statement referring the recent attack in Florida. "LGBT people of color are especially at risk. The Administration is committed to continuing the fight for dignity, acceptance and equal rights for all Americans — no matter who they are or who they love."

This article has been updated to include comment from Tim Gill.

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