President Obama designated the Stonewall Inn and its surrounding area as the first official national monument to LGBT rights. Recognizing the location in Manhattan as the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, Obama ensured it would be protected under federal regulations.
The Stonewall National Monument in New York City is the first, officially recognized addition to the National Park System that is associated with the LGBT community. The monument recognizes the struggles the community has had to endure to secure a position in modern society.
The tiny 7.78 acres of land in Manhattan comprising of Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn, and the surrounding streets and sidewalks, will fall under federal protection and be designated as a national monument, reports NBC News. Incidentally, the boundaries etched in the proclamation that was signed by President Barack Obama are the same that comprise the existing Stonewall National Historic Landmark established in 2000.
It was on June 28, 1969, when gay patrons at the bar fought back against police persecution. The historic moment saw the LGBT community push back against the police. They countered a raid on the Stonewall Inn that was conducted because alcohol was not to be served to “homosexuals.” The event, called the “Stonewall Uprising” is widely considered the first retaliation against persecution based on sexual orientation and it soon swelled into a nationwide movement, said Obama in a video announcing the Stonewall National Monument.
“Raids like these were nothing new, but this time the patrons had had enough. So they stood up and spoke out. The riots became protests. The protests became a movement. The movement ultimately became an integral part of America.”
Recognizing the trials and tribulations the LGBT community had to suffer to gain acceptance in the society as normal citizens wasn’t easy, reported LGBTQ Nation. Obama attempted to weave the struggles of the marginalized community within the fabric of American history by saying the following.
“Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country — the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one.”
Designation of the Stonewall monument comes just days before the first anniversary of the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, reported NPR. The White House released an official statement about the designation of the national monument.
“The designation will create the first official National Park Service unit dedicated to telling the story of LGBT Americans, just days before the one year anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing marriage equality in all 50 states”
Sadly, the announcement also comes just two weeks after a gunman barged into Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando frequented by the members of the LGBT community, and massacred 49 innocent people. The gunman had previously indicated he hated the community and targeted the nightclub primarily because it had a large number of patrons with same-sex preference.
What does the Stonewall Monument entitle? The monument covers nearly 8 acres in New York’s Greenwich Village. However, only the Christopher Park itself will become federal land. It will be managed by the National Park Service. As part of a national monument, the park is now considered a protected land.
The announcement is being framed as a culmination of the 8 years of the Obama administration’s policy promoting LGBT rights, reports ABC News. During his 8 years in office, Obama has always supported the LGBT community. The day the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, the White House’s entrance facing Pennsylvania Avenue was decorated in rainbow colors. Obama has also protected more than 265 million acres of land since becoming president. With the designation of the LGBT monument, the president has neatly combined the two topics that are seemingly close to his heart.
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