Momentum is building to name the Stonewall Inn a national park.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the National Parks Conservation Association, and a spectrum of state and local elected officials held a news conference on Sunday to build support for national park designation at Stonewall in the Village, where the modern LGBT movement began in the summer of 1969.
“The Stonewall Rebellion is a rarity – a tipping point in history where we know, with absolute clarity, that everything changed,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “This site has a unique place in American history and the struggle for dignity and equal rights in our society, and would be a fitting site for the country’s first National Monument dedicated to the LGBT community.”
As part of the leadup to the national launch, elected officials have sent the first letters to President Obama requesting the designation of a Stonewall National Monument. Organized by Nadler, the list of officials announcing their support includes U.S. Senators Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, 11 members of Congress, 13 New York State Senators, 37 New York State Assembly Members, five New York City Council Members, as well as the New York City Comptroller, Public Advocate, and Manhattan Borough President.
“It’s time for a national monument honoring the legacy of people and events that took place here,” Gillibrand said. “Victories like the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the passage of marriage equality in New York State and the final, decisive Supreme Court ruling securing our freedom to marry, were borne from the modern equal rights movement launched at Stonewall.”
Two-thirds of America’s more than 400 national park sites are dedicated to cultural and historic significance. Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, N.Y., tells the story of the first Women’s Rights Convention held there in July 1848, and the struggle for equality and civil rights. Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama, a national park site, traces the march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the struggle for equal voting rights for African Americans. A national park at Stonewall would tell the story of the LGBT community’s fight for equal rights in America.
“The resounding support for this effort underscores that it is time to have a national park site that tells the story of the LGBT rights movement – one that should be told for decades to come,” said Cortney Worrall, Northeast regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “We must continue to protect and preserve these places, urban and rural, natural and historic, that speak to and represent who we are as a nation. And by the best storytellers in the business – the National Park Service.”
A national park in the village would invigorate historic preservation of LGBT history in the neighborhood. The call to designate the nation’s first LGBT national park site around Stonewall enjoys tremendous local and national support.
“The Stonewall Uprising wasn’t just a catalyst for the LGBTQ civil rights movement – it signified a watershed moment in the history of American social justice,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “Now is the time for Stonewall to take its place alongside the many other places of deep historical significance in New York City.”