President Obama To Create First National Monument To Gay Rights

President Obama is set to make history by naming the first ever national monument to the gay rights movement in the United States. The White House, reports the Washington Post, is expected to name the a small portion of New York City’s Greenwich Village as a national monument recognizing the birthplace of the modern gay and LGBTQ rights movement in the United States.

The proposed location for the national monument to gay rights is reportedly near the historic Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 Stonewall Riots which served as the origin of the gay rights movement in the United States.

According to the Washington Post, federal officials are set to meet and discuss the official plans for the new national monument commemorating the gay rights movement in the United States, and while the location isn’t set in stone – yet – it’s expected that the White House will decide on the exact location and designate the area a part of the National Park Service. The Post speculates that President Obama could name the new national monument as soon as next month – in time for gay pride festivals throughout the United States.

“We must ensure that we never forget the legacy of Stonewall, the history of discrimination against the LGBT community, or the impassioned individuals who have fought to overcome it,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, co-author of the legislation that would declare the area a national park.

The White House’s decision to commemorate and recognize the gay rights movement with a national monument comes at a time when several states have passed legislation curtailing the rights of gay and transgender individuals, from North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” to Mississippi’s “religious freedom bill,” both of which have met with serious legal challenges by civil rights advocates like the ACLU. President Obama’s support for the new national monument reflects his administration’s history of support for gay rights and civil liberties, reports Reuters.

“The LGBT civil rights movement launched at Stonewall is woven into American history. And it is time our National Park system reflected that reality,” said Re. Jerrold Nadler.

Still, the White House’s plan to designate a new national monument in the dense urban sprawl of New York City isn’t as simple as it might seem. According to the Washington Post, federal officials including the director of the National Park Service, are set to hold a listening session to discuss the proposal and any potential zoning issues. Officials continue to investigate the history of the land ownership in the area, to determine precisely where the new national monument would be established.

The proposed location is now home to Christopher Park, a tiny patch of green space near the Stonewall Inn, less than two-tenths of an acre in size. Last month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation which would allow New York City to transfer ownership of the park to the federal government should the small slice of land be designated a national monument to gay rights.

“History is messy. This raised the consciousness of people throughout the country. It said to people, you don’t have to be quiet. You don’t have to stay in the closet,” said David Stacy of the Human Rights Campaign.

The location of the new national monument was chosen very deliberately, the Stonewall Riots in 1969 were pivotal for the establishment of gay rights in the United States, and the public acceptance of the LGBT community as a whole. After police raided the bar and subjected patrons to discriminatory and degrading treatment, including alleged sexual assaults, the riots broke out in the streets of Greenwich Village, changing the face of gay rights in the United States forever.

[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]