Since the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission made history by landmarking the Stonewall Inn for its involvement in the gay rights movement, activists and politicians have been pushing to similarly designate the small park just outside the bar as a national monument. Today, just in time for the weekend's Pride parade, President Obama did just that, designating Christopher Park the "Stonewall National Monument" and making it the first national park dedicated to LGBT history.
"Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights," Obama said in a video announcing the designation. "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."
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 24, 2016
Making this designation a reality wasn't so simple: it required that the city transfer land to the federal government, which would then enable President Obama to invoke the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gives the president the power to proclaim national monuments to protect important cultural, natural, or scientific features. But unlike many matters that tangle city, state, and federal interests, this one received unanimous support, from the community board level to the mayor's office and the state, and in April, Governor Cuomo signed legislation making it possible for the city to transfer the park to the federal government.
The monument will commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots, during which members of the LGBT community protested against a police raid that took place early on June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn. Yesterday, NYPD Commissioner Bratton said that he doesn't think the department owes that community an apology for those events, arguing that "the apology is all that's occurred since then."
— NationalParkService (@NatlParkService) June 24, 2016
"There is no better time to acknowledge Stonewall as a national monument—a place that is central to our history and our values, not only as a city but as a nation," Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. "When the City of New York gave this historic NYC real estate to the federal government, we couldn't have known how critical this moment would be. Today, the designation of Stonewall Inn serves as both recognition of the bravery of the activists who fought for their right to love, but also as a national embrace of the LGBTQ community after the devastating attack in Orlando."
You can read Obama's full proclamation here: