President Barack Obama announced his decision to designate the site of the Stonewall Uprising for gay rights in New York City as a national monument.
The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar that was raided by the New York City police department to enforce a law making it illegal to sell alcoholic drinks to homosexuals. Gay Americans rioted in response, organizing activists and rallies across the country in support of gay rights in America.
In a YouTube video, Obama recalled the 1969 riots, praising the gay rights activists that reacted to the Stonewall arrests.
“Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights,” Obama said. “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.”
According to the White House, the national park will include the Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park across the street; about 7.7 acres of land.
In his statement, Obama recognized Christopher Park as a gathering place for the LGBT community, recalling that there were celebrations and weddings there after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015.
He also referred to those who mourned at the park after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando earlier this month.
“LGBT people and their supporters in New York headed again to Christopher Park to mourn, heal, and stand together in unity for the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country,” he said.
Obama also recalled the persecution that gay Americans suffered under the law before homosexuality became widely accepted.
“In some States, adults of the same sex caught having consensual sex in their own home could receive sentences of up to life in prison or be confined to a mental institution, where they faced horrific procedures, such as shock therapy, castration, and lobotomies,” he said.
Obama celebrated the progress America had made regarding LGBT Americans, but admitted that there was more that the country could do.
“There is important distance yet to travel, but through political engagement and litigation, as well as individual acts of courage and acceptance, this movement has made tremendous progress toward securing equal rights and equal dignity,” he wrote.