President Obama has made it clear again and again throughout this year that he intends to end his presidency with a bang, not a whimper. He has broken new ground throughout year, and now he may continue to do so by being the one to declare the first-ever national monument recognizing the struggle for gay rights.
According to The Washington Post, the monument will, barring any complications as city officials finish investigating the history of the land, be located in New York City and will be “the first national monument anchored by a dive bar and surrounded by a warren of narrow streets that long has been regarded the historic center of gay cultural life in New York City.”
While it is not the most conventional place for a national monument, the location of this monument to-be is particularly important, as it is located across the street from the Stonewall Inn, which was the site of the late 1960s Stonewall riots. For those who are unfamiliar, the Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the LGBT community against a police raid that took place at the Stonewall Inn, which was frequented by gay men.
NY Rep. Jerrold Nadler said in a statement regarding the monument and its location:
‘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. The LGBT civil rights movement launched at Stonewall is woven into American history, and it is time our National Park system reflected that reality.’
President Obama, who has been explicit in his support for equality for the LGBT community and has, along with his wife, openly criticized North Carolina’s HB2 “bathroom bill,” made reference to Stonewall during his second inaugural speech and during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the march on Selma.
The timing of the plans to create this monument are just as crucial as the location. Now is a time when much progress has been made in the fight for LGBT equality, but there is still a long way to go, as conservative states attempt to take away rights by policing bathrooms and legalizing discrimination.
While the monument is sure to draw criticism from conservatives throughout the nation, it has also received a great deal of support from the people who matter to its creation, such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), and several other state lawmakers who signed legislation allowing the park to be designated as a monument by the federal government.
In addition to support from government officials, community members have also expressed support for the monument. Brian Sullivan, a former bartender who returns to Stonewall almost daily said, “Stonewall deserves to be remembered. When I started coming here, gay people were disowned by their families, so this is the place where we formed a new gay family of our own. This is the mecca; it’s where it all started.”
Chad Walter, who plays for the Stonewall billiards team, said of the potential monument, “People are still being discriminated against all across the country. This adds legitimacy; it tells people that even the government agrees this movement is important and historic.”
Featured image via Getty.