Victory! The Stonewall Inn Declared a National Monument

President Barack Obama announced Friday that he is creating the country's first national monument to LGBT rights, the Stonewall National Monument in New York City.

The Stonewall National Monument will include Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn, and the surrounding areas that were the sites of the Stonewall riots in 1969, according to The White House.

The announcement comes after a two-year effort by the National Parks Service (NPS), which oversees the creation and maintenance of national parks and monuments, and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the non-profit dedicated to advocacy on behalf of the NPS, to identify sites for an LGBT monument.

As part of that campaign, the NPCA started a petition nine months ago -- now a victory -- asking President Obama to create a National Park for Stonewall.

“There’s a national park site in Seneca Falls that tells the story of the women’s rights movement. There’s a national park site in Selma that tells the story of the African-American rights movement. And now, there’s a national park site in New York that tells the story of the LGBT rights movement,” wrote the NPCA on Friday.

“For more than two years, NPCA and our many partners worked with supporters like you to shine a light on LGBT history and its important place in the struggle for civil rights and human rights in America.”

It’s petition was signed by more than 26,000 people in the last nine months, including celebrities like Alan Cumming, Demi Lovato, and Melissa Etheridge.

 
 

Another petition, started by the Save Stonewall organization last year, has more than 1,000 signatures.

The Stonewall Inn took its place in American history on June 28, 1969 when patrons of the gay bar fought back during a police raid, a common practice at the time. A riot ensued, followed by weeks of protesting outside the bar, and, ultimately, the first march for gay and lesbian rights in July 1969.

The events at the Stonewall Inn -- which was made a NYC landmark in 2015 -- are largely credited for the birth of the LGBT rights movement. Those events are commemorated every June with Pride parades all over the world. New York City’s Pride parade will be held on Sunday.

A powerful symbol, Stonewall is still a gathering place for the LGBT rights movement. A year ago Saturday it was the site of celebration as the Supreme Court upheld gay marriage.

And it was a site of a vigil after the shooting at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, earlier this month. Last Sunday, protesters marched from Grand Central Station to the Stonewall Inn to rally against violence toward the LGBT community.

This week, President Obama is recognizing not only that role in the LGBT community, but also the site’s importance in a larger American narrative and the story of civil 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 than ever. That out of many, we are one," President Obama said in a video released by the White House on Friday.

 

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