A lot of talk is surrounding The Stonewall Inn, this time because it could become the first national monument for gay rights. After New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed last month’s law declaring the park outside Stonewall to become federal land, President Obama could declare it a historic site under the Antiquities Act, and many seem to think of the move as inevitable.
Such an act would be just in time for our nation’s celebrated Gay Pride Month of June. In fact, the month is celebrated accordingly for the Stonewall Riots of June 1969, when a police raid clashed with bar patrons and members of the gay community in Greenwich Village — a reaction to years of raids, years of arrests, years of harassment.
Unanimous support for the monumental decision has come from LGBT and park activists, Stonewall’s neighbors and participants, and historians alike. The Stonewall Riots symbolized a push-back from the gay community, as the violence was as tragic as it was furious as it was desperate — a demand for equality at the end of activist decade.
Since its 2007 reopening, The Stonewall Inn has reminded Manhattan of what endures in the city that never sleeps. Forever a symbol of progress and the fight to achieve it, the spot has become a historic landmark recognized by New York City and the federal government. The next step in this fight is a national monument.
The Secretary of the Department of the Interior Sally Jewell put it best when she said, “The National Park Service is America’s storyteller, and we know that there are very, very important parts of our story that have yet to be told.”
While no one’s entirely sure if Congress will act, talk of the monument drives it repeatedly into the national spotlight. With all eyes on The Stonewall Inn, a national monument would be a profound emblem of equality.