New York Democrats Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Jerrold Nadler announced a proposal Sunday to turn the Stonewall Inn, a historic Manhattan site famous for its role in the gay rights movement, into a national park. The lawmakers said their plan, which asks President Barack Obama to give Stonewall national monument status and then let Congress vote on making it a park, would create the first national park celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history, the Associated Press reported.
"When we look at our country, we have recognized women's rights, civil rights -- all kinds of rights," Gillibrand told the AP. "The time has come to give this part of our history an imprimatur of national importance."
The Stonewall Inn calls itself “where gay pride began.” In the 1960s, the Mafia-owned bar welcomed LGBT customers and resisted police raids based on New York City laws that made it illegal to serve alcohol to gay patrons. During one such raid June 28, 1969, the customers refused to cooperate. They rioted, and the event was seen as the inspiration for a large anti-discrimination movement.
New York declared Stonewall an official landmark this past June, and the lawmakers indicated they wanted to build on that momentum. “The legacy of the Stonewall Rebellion mirrors that of our nation: a group of individuals standing together against all odds to demand their freedom,” Nadler said at a news conference, CBS reported. “As the struggle to ensure equality for all continues, I am proud to stand with this coalition to remember the spark that launched the LGBT civil rights movement.”
Supporters included 12 other members of Congress as well as 13 state senators and a variety of city officials, Gothamist reported. The National Parks Conservation Association also backed the effort and started a change.org petition in its honor.
Only Congress can create a new national park, so the politicians’ first demand is that Obama designate Stonewall a monument. In order to do so, though, the land nearby -- Christopher Park -- would have to be transferred to the federal government, the Washington Blade reported. Right now, it’s owned by New York.