Politics

President Turns LGBT Icon Stonewall Inn Into a National Monument

1969 NYC riots helped ignite gay rights movement

 

The site of a 1969 revolt by members of the gay community in New York City was declared a national monument Friday by President Barack Obama , the White House announced.  

"I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s national parks system,” Obama said in a YouTube video posted as the announcement was made. “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,” Obama said in the video, released while the president is in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has a strong LGBT presence. “That out of many, we are one."  

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When police officers raided the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village one June night in 1969, gay patrons responded with violent protests. The officers claimed to be enforcing a law that made it illegal to sell alcohol to homosexuals.  

The backlash set off a riot and days of street protests.  

“These events, which are now often referred to as the Stonewall Uprising, are widely considered to be a watershed moment when the LGBT community across the nation demonstrated its power to join together and demand equality and respect,” the White House said Friday.  

The monument will include the tavern and a small park nearby.  

“The Stonewall National Monument will pay tribute to the brave individuals who stood up to oppression and helped ignite a fire in a movement to end unfair and unjust discrimination against [LGBT] people,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “The announcement is especially significant following the horrific massacre in Orlando , a heartbreaking reminder of the hate and violence we continue to face as a community."

Contact Bennett at  johnbennett@cqrollcall.com  and follow him on Twitter  @BennettJohnT .

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