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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 6, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 19
Obama to name Stonewall Inn First National Monument to Gay Rights
Section One
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Obama to name Stonewall Inn First National Monument to Gay Rights

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Last week, Seattle Gay News announced the City of Seattle's full support of naming the historic Stonewall Inn, in New York's Greenwich Village, the nation's first LGBTQ national park. On April 25, the Seattle City Council passed with unanimous consent a resolution expressing the City of Seattle's fervent support for the designation, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed Resolution 31660 on April 29 during a ceremony in the Norman B. Rice room at City Hall. This week SGN is proud to announce that, according to the Associated Press, New York's iconic Stonewall Inn, where the modern LGBTQ rights movement took root, will become the first national monument honoring LGBTQ history in the U.S. under a proposal President Barack Obama is preparing to approve.

Since the 1969 uprising, so much has changed: The U.S. has enacted some anti-discrimination protections (where none used to exist at all), allowed LGB (and soon to be T) people to serve openly in the U.S. military and legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. President Obama will perform a major act of recognition for the LGBTQ community and our struggles over the last half-century by designating the historic site a national park.

At this point, the land must still be transferred to the federal government and other details worked out. However, the AP reports that the president is expected to move quickly to greenlight the monument following a public meeting Monday in Manhattan, according to two individuals familiar with the administration's plans.

The individuals weren't authorized to discuss the plans publicly and requested anonymity.



The timing of any such announcement to designate Stonewall a national park makes sense as next month marks LGBTQ Pride Month in the U.S. - which will also be Obama's last as president. The 44th President of the United States, and the nation's first African American to serve as president, has done more for LGBTQ rights than any of the other presidents combined.

The Obama Administration's record for the LGBTQ community includes: repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT), ending the legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) before the Supreme Court struck down the law last June, signing historic hate crimes legislation (Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act), ensuring hospital visitation rights for LGBT patients and their loved ones, expanding access to health coverage (through the Affordable Healthcare Act), developing and implementing a national HIV/AIDS strategy, working to prevent bullying against LGBTQ students by hosting the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in March 2011, and much more.

The White House has declined to comment at the moment. However, the Obama Administration announced this week that on May 9, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis will join U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler (NY-10th) and other federal, New York state and local officials to participate in a public meeting with community members to hear their vision for the long-term protection and management of Christopher Park.

The park is proposed as a new unit of the National Park System dedicated to telling the story of the Stonewall Uprising.

The public meeting is being hosted by Representative Jerrold Nadler and co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, New York City Council Member Corey Johnson, and Manhattan Community Board Two.

Currently, Representative Nadler and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand are cosponsors of legislation pending in Congress to designate Christopher Park as a new unit of the National Park System.

Christopher Park is located across from the Stonewall Inn in New York City's Greenwich Village neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn, and adjacent streets and sidewalks were designated as the Stonewall National Historic Landmark in 2000.

It is important to note that Obama has paid tribute to the site before. In what would become known as the first reference to LGBTQ rights in an inaugural address, Obama said in his second inaugural address in 2013, that the principle of equality still guides the U.S. 'just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall.'

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