Congressman Nadler Calls for New National Monument Commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, Beginning of the LGBT Rights Movement

May 9, 2016 Issues: LGBT Rights, Civil Rights

NEW YORK, NY –Today, New York federal, state and city elected officials called on President Obama and federal administration officials to designate a new national monument at Christopher Park commemorating the Stonewall Uprising, which launched the modern LGBT civil rights movement in 1969.  Immediately ahead of a public listening session hosted by Congressman Jerrold Nadler in Greenwich Village, where Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell and National Parks Service Director Jonathan Jarvis will be hearing from elected officials and community stakeholders responding to the proposal for a national monument, local leaders heralded the public meeting as a critical next step in the process and spoke about the significance of Stonewall to the struggle for equality for LGBT Americans.

The national campaign to designate a national park at the site of Stonewall was launched over a year ago by parks advocates, historians, LGBT advocates, local community leaders and elected officials.  The campaign urged the federal government to officially recognize the importance of the Stonewall site—an internationally recognized symbol of the movement for LGBT rights—to American civil rights history by designating a national monument or historic site, which may be done either under Presidential authority or through an act of Congress.  The proposal has enjoyed widespread and overwhelming support both locally and across the country, at all levels of New York City and State government.  Tonight’s public meeting is the next step in the process of potentially designating a national park at Stonewall.

“We are long overdue for recognition of the struggle for LGBT civil rights in our national park system, and there is no better way to begin telling those stories than at Stonewall,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “Stonewall was the spark that ignited the movement for LGBT civil rights, a spark which continues to burn around the world today. We must ensure that the events of Stonewall, the persecution of the LGBT community, and the brave individuals who fought--and continue to fight--to overcome it are given the place they deserve in our nation's history.  Designating a national park at this site would ensure that the contributions of the activists and individuals who helped launch the fight for civil rights are recognized, including those who have not always been acknowledged, such as transgender women of color. I am thrilled Secretary Jewell and Director Jarvis are coming to hear from New Yorkers, and am hopeful they will recommend that the President take action.”

“Making Stonewall a National Park is the right thing to do for our city, state and country. June of 1969 began a long and uphill struggle for LGBT equality, which continues today. The Stonewall Uprising – like Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus and the Seneca Falls women’s rights conference – are iconic and pivotal moments in the essential effort to fully realize America’s founding ideal that all of us are created equal. I am thrilled that DOI Secretary Jewell and NPS Director Jarvis are attending the public meeting and making this a priority,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer.

“The Stonewall Inn is an icon in American history, and a national monument designation at this site would help tell the story of the equal rights movement in America for generations to come. Every recent victory for the LGBTQ community, from the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to the Supreme Court decision about the right to marry, is a result of the movement that began at Stonewall more than four decades ago. The Stonewall Inn deserves this highest honor, and I will continue to work with the President and my colleagues in Congress to make sure it happens,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

“New York jumpstarted the gay rights movements at Stonewall,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “This site holds a crucial place in our nation’s history, and it continues to represent the truth that love and equality must always triumph over hatred and discrimination. I urge the federal government to commemorate this legacy with a national monument to the LGBT community at Christopher Park.”

“New Yorkers have always stood up for what they believed in, and today we are again raising our voices to encourage President Obama to cement into the nation’s history the heroism of those who sparked the nation’s LGBT movement at Stonewall Inn in 1969 by refusing to be criminalized for who, or how, they loved – and risked everything in their fight for justice,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Nearly half a century later, as some legislators across the country attempt to turn back the clock and further codify discrimination, we must reaffirm our values of mutual respect, love and understanding by designating Stonewall Inn a national monument.”

“As the Senator for Stonewall, the only openly LGBT member of the State Senate and a gay dad, I’m proud to have passed legislation in the New York State Senate last month authorizing federal designation of the Stonewall National Monument, the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. The Stonewall National Monument will serve as a beacon of hope for LGBT people in America and across the globe, most of whom are still struggling for equal rights. The announcement today is the result of a collaborative effort led by Congressman Nadler at every level of government. I’m extremely grateful to him, Governor Cuomo for signing my and Assembly Member Glick’s state legislation on Stonewall, Senator Gillibrand, Senator Schumer, Interior Secretary Jewell and National Park Service Director Jarvis for their work at the federal level, as well as Mayor De Blasio, Council Member Johnson, Manhattan Community Board 2, and the NPCA for leading the charge locally,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman.

“For nearly a year, I have been working with colleagues on the City, State, and Federal levels to create a national monument dedicated to the struggle of gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender Americans. I am thrilled the landmark is proposed to be located right here in Greenwich Village, the starting place of the modern LGBT rights movement. The support from the local community has been overwhelming, and I am optimistic that the President will designate Christopher Park as the first national monument dedicated to the LGBT Rights Movement,” said Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick.

"What happened at the Stonewall Inn and at Christopher Park is a key chapter in American history," said Council Member Corey Johnson. "It's incredibly important that this is recognized by our federal government. I'm proud to support the creation of this monument and I thank Congressman Jerrold Nadler for his leadership in making this happen."

“The Stonewall Inn and its surrounding area is more than a historic site, it is sacred ground in America’s ongoing struggle for freedom, justice, and equality for all,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “Four decades after the Stonewall riots catalyzed the LGBTQ civil rights movement, we are on the cusp of naming Christopher Park the first National Historic Monument that recognizes this long fight for equality. With this recognition, Stonewall will take its rightful place as a national beacon of hope.”

“As the heart of the LGBT equal rights movement, Stonewall symbolizes the same fight for civil rights that we saw in Selma and Seneca,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Following New York City’s recognition of the Stonewall Inn as a historic landmark, I am pleased that President Obama is moving close to designating it as a national monument. This site is emblematic of our national struggle against prejudice and injustice and our continued commitment to equal rights and protections for all Americans”

“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 A. Brewer. “This site has a unique place in American history and the struggle for dignity and equal rights in our society. I join Rep. Nadler and our colleagues in urging President Obama to create our first National Monument dedicated to the LGBT community at Christopher Park, across the street from the Stonewall Inn.”

“Parks across this country have historically played such an important role in memorializing important moments in history. It is time to validate the struggle, and sacrifice of self, that many in the LGBTQ community made nearly fifty years ago by memorializing Stonewall,” said New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver.

“Manhattan Community Board Two is proud and gratified that an historic event of great significance will get the recognition it must have, in a context that protects our neighbors and the neighborhood character of the park they love and need,” said Tobi Bergman, Chair, Manhattan Community Board Two.

“The tremendous support and efforts of elected officials, community leaders, thousands of people and hundreds of organizations lead us to this chance for a national park for Stonewall,” said Cortney Worrall, Northeast regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Currently, not one of our more than 400 national park sites is dedicated to LGBT history and it’s time to change that. We look forward to tonight’s important public discussion and hope to hear overwhelming support for why Stonewall’s story deserves to be remembered and re-told for generations to come.”

BACKGROUND: Congressman Jerrold Nadler is the author of the Stonewall National Historic Site Establishment Act (H.R. 4230) which would designate a National Park at the site of Stonewall. The legislation is carried by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate. National Historic Sites and National Monuments are both types of units within the National Park system. 

###