On Friday afternoon President Barack Obama designated the site of New York City's Stonewall Uprising as the first-ever national monument celebrating LGBTQ rights in the United States.
In a video announcing the move, President Obama offered a brief history of the Stonewall Inn, describing how a 1969 police raid on the popular LGBTQ bar promoted a rebellion from outraged patrons. The uprising helped to spark the modern day LGBTQ rights movement, which, as Obama said, "ultimately because an integral part of America."
I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s National Park System. 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.
The Washington Post reported that the National Monument designation will apply to Greenwich Village's 7.7 acre Christopher Park, which sits just outside the site of the Stonewall Inn, itself.
"I remember the late 1960s," Melissa Sklarz said in the announcement video. "Gay people were victims on a culture that had no respect, no tolerance."
"Today we have gay and lesbian elected officials. We see cultural changes in television and movies. President Obama has been the most proactive president for LGBT people in America. There is no second place."
"Stonewall is finally taking its rightful place in American history, and I am proud to have championed this effort,” Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said in a statement, adding:
President Obama’s designation of the Stonewall National Monument recognizes that the events of Stonewall launched the modern LGBT civil rights movement here and around the world —like Selma did for racial justice and Seneca Falls did for women’s rights. We are faced with painful reminders daily of how much further we must go to achieve true equality and tolerance for the LGBT community, but honoring and preserving the stories of all of the diverse participants in Stonewall in our National Park System is a clear symbol of how far we have come.
There has been an effort to find a national LGBTQ monument for at least two years, when the National Parks Conservation Association began working to identify potential locations, CNN reported in May.
"Clearly, it was Stonewall," Cortney Worrall, the Association's senior northeast regional director, explained to CNN, adding that once it was designated as a national monument, the community and officials would then spend three years collaborating on the nature of the park.
The White House video concludes with a short excerpt from President Obama's second inaugural address, where it's clear he was already beginning to frame the Stonewall Inn as the site of significant national importance.
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.