New York's Stonewall Inn could be first national gay rights monument

Reports suggest that the president will soon add the historic Stonewall site as a national monument.

Richard Drew/AP/File
The Stonewall Inn, in New York's Greenwich Village, is still in operation today.

The United States may soon have its first official national monument recognizing the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

A report by The Washington Post suggests that President Obama is set to designate Stonewall, the area surrounding the New York City inn that was the site of violent riots linked to the gay rights movement, as a national monument as soon as next month.

The National Park Service also recently announced the additions of two gay rights landmarks to its National Register of Historic Places: the Washington, D.C., home of Furies Collective, a lesbian commune established in the early 1970s responsible for The Furies newspaper, and the Edificio Comunidad de Orgullo Gay de Puerto Rico in San Juan, the first meeting place for gays in the island territory.

The National Park Service’s additions bring the total of LGBT sites recognized in its registry to around a dozen, while Mr. Obama’s potential Stonewall monument designation would be a first official national monument.

The Stonewall riots involved a 1969 raid by the New York Police Department on the Stonewall Inn, a gathering place for gays in the city. Violence broke out and continued for days, resulting in the establishment of more meeting places for the gay community and cementing the incident as a turning point for the gay rights movement.

“What happened at Stonewall and at Christopher Park is a key chapter in American history,” New York City councilman Corey Johnson, who is gay and represents the Stonewall area, told the Associated Press.

Obama’s move would add to the long list of monuments he has designated during his time in office, including large portions of land in the Western US, that some view as federal overreach.

Obama and the White House have yet to officially announce their intentions regarding the site, but the president has previously referenced the New York bar as an important landmark to equality alongside places like Seneca Falls, N.Y., and Selma, Ala.

“We must ensure that we never forget the legacy of Stonewall, the history of discrimination against the LGBT community, or the impassioned individuals who have fought to overcome it,” US Representative Jerrold Nadler, whose district includes the Stonewall site, said in a statement. Rep. Nadler is set to hold a public forum on the likely designation Monday night.

“We now have an opportunity to ensure that the contributions of all of the brave individuals who helped launch the fight for civil rights are recognized, including those who have not always been acknowledged, such as transgender women of color,” he added.

National LGBT Pride Month is commemorated in June, when more information on Stonewall’s monument status could be released.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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