The National Park Service made history when it agreed to raise the rainbow flag at the Stonewall National Monument, the first national landmark honoring the contributions of the LGBT community in America. The event, scheduled for noon today, was to be the first time the symbol was to fly over federally funded land, and the first time the NPS would be responsible for its care.
But now the Trump Administration has rained on our parade: The NPS has withdrawn from the event and abdicated responsibility for maintaining the flagpole, turning it over to the City of New York. (The page map of the Stonewall National Monument has also been removed from the NPS website.)
NPS staff were originally scheduled to speak at the ceremony, which will go on as planned, but there will be now be no personnel in attendance. Barbara Applebaum, NPS Chief of Interpretation, Education and Visitor Services, had originally approved the event’s permit and was scheduled to speak. She has dropped out, citing “a schedule conflict.”
“When it saw the pre-publicity on the ceremony, the National Park Service under Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Department of the Interior worked to certify that the flagpole adjacent to Christopher Park was not technically on federal land so that no rainbow flag would be flying on U.S. government property,” reports Gay City News.
In April, Trump ordered the Interior Department to review all landmark designations made in the last two decades “to discern whether they are within the law’s intent.”
NPS spokeswoman Mindy Anderson insists it’s just a question of jurisdiction: “The flagpole is not on federal property. It’s a separate monument to the first person killed in the Civil War. It has never been part of the Stonewall National Monument, although it is located there. The flagpole is not managed by the Park Service. We gifted the flag to New York City Parks.”
But activists see it as the latest salvo in the White House’s war against LGBT equality. “This is an unbelievably petty, sleazy, transparent bit of cruelty by the Trump administration,” said Ann Northrop, who is slated to preside over the ceremony. “Evidently, we are so filthy to them and their right-wing supporters that they can’t even be associated with a few yards of rainbow fabric.”
The Stonewall National Monument was dedicated in June 2016 by President Obama.