Obama creates first national gay rights monument

President Obama has established a new national monument at New York’s Stonewall Inn, the first such dedication marking the gay rights movement in the United States. 

The Stonewall Inn is a Greenwich Village gay bar and the site of a police raid and subsequent riots in 1969 that helped ignite the American gay rights movement. In a White House video released Friday, Obama said that movement “ultimately became an integral part of America.”


Naming a monument at Stonewall Inn as a national monument has been in the works for months. But its official commemoration on Friday comes as America’s LGBT community reels from the mass shooting that killed 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub earlier this month. 

That attack, categorized by federal officials as both a hate crime and terrorist attack, has added fuel to the debate over federal legal protections for the LGBT community that had already played out publicly and acrimoniously in the U.S. House this year. 

It also brought the gay rights movement directly into the political debate over guns: the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s biggest LGBT advocacy group, announced last week that it would advocate for stricter gun control measure after the shooting.

The Stonewall designation is part of an Obama administration effort to highlight the LGBT rights movement around the country. 

The Department of Interior announced in May 2014 that it would conduct a “theme study” of important LGBT sites around the United States. It has named nine sites historical landmarks or added them to the National Register of Historic Places since then.

“Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights,” Obama said in the video.  

“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.” 

Interior Secretary and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis will attend a dedication ceremony for the monument — in neighboring Christopher Park — on Monday.

—This post was updated at 2:00 p.m.