President Obama is designating a new national monument at the Stonewall Inn, the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement.
The Stonewall National Monument in New York City will be the first addition to the National Park System specifically highlighting the history of the LGBT community.
The monument covers nearly 8 acres in New York’s Greenwich Village including a landmark gay bar, the Stonewall Inn. In June of 1969, patrons at the bar fought back against police persecution — an event that’s widely seen as a watershed in the campaign for LGBT rights.
“Raids like these were nothing new, but this time the patrons had had enough,” Obama said in a White House video announcing the new monument. “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.”
Obama had previously highlighted the significance of Stonewall in his second inaugural address, weaving the battle for gay rights into a larger tapestry of civil rights for women and African-Americans.
“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,” Obama told a cheering crowd on the National Mall in January 2013.
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. It also follows less than two weeks after 49 patrons at a gay bar in Orlando, Fla., were killed in a mass shooting.
Creation of the national monument, which also includes Christopher Park and the surrounding area, required some complex land swaps. It had the backing of state and local officials in New York.
“Stonewall is finally taking its rightful place in American history,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who helped lead the effort. “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.”