Obama To Name First National Monument Honoring LGBT History

"What happened at Stonewall and at Christopher Park is a key chapter in American history.”

As he heads into his final months in office, President Obama continues to make good on his promise to bring the LGBT community into the fabric of America.

The Washington Post reports that the president is preparing to approve a proposal to make New York’s Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 riots that launched the modern gay rights movement, a national monument.

Though land must still be transferred to the federal government and other details worked out, the president is expected to move quickly to greenlight the monument following a public meeting Monday in Manhattan, according to two individuals familiar with the administration’s plans.

An unidentifed group of young poeple celebrate outside the boarded-up Stonewall Inn (53 Christopher Street) after riots over the weekend of June 27, 1969. The bar and surrounding area were the site of a series of demonstrations and riots that led to the formation of the modern gay rights movement in the United States. (Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images)
Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images

While the battle for LGBT equality predates Stonewall, it has long been seen as a physical embodiment of our struggle. President Obama referenced the bar in his 2013 inaugural address, stating that the principle of equality still guides this country. “just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma and Stonewall.”

At the same time, efforts are underway to secure the site’s importance in other ways: Last year, New York City designated Stonewall a city landmark—the first chosen for its relevance to LGBT history—and legislation has been proposed in Congress to make it a national park.

While specifics about the monument have yet to be revealed, Obama could designate Stonewall itself a monument, or include Christopher Park, the small green area across from the bar.

“What happened at Stonewall and at Christopher Park is a key chapter in American history,” said Corey Johnson, an openly gay councilman who represents the area. “Gay history should be taught, and the federal government taking this step allows us to have this conversation.

On Monday, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the launch of a study to find landmarks important to LGBT history for inclusion in the national parks program.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.