Two New York legislators are leading a campaign to designate Stonewall Inn as the first national park honoring LGBT history.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler made their announcement Sunday in front of the Greenwich Village tavern that was the scene of a 1969 uprising at a key moment for the nascent gay rights movement.
"When we look at our country, we have recognized women's rights, civil rights, all kinds of rights," Gillibrand said. "The time has come to give this part of our history an imprimatur of national importance."
The two Democrats were joined by other elected officials and members of the National Parks Conservation Association and the Human Rights Campaign.
Other senior New York Democrats have endorsed the campaign for a national park at the Stonewall Inn, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senator Chuck Schumer, according to the New York Times.
The Stonewall Inn became an instant gay rights symbol when riots spontaneously erupted on June 28, 1969, after a police raid at the Greenwich Village bar, known for serving a gay clientele in an era of intolerance of homosexuality.
As police detained people without ID and those who appeared to be cross-dressing, a crowd gathered outside and began attacking the police with bottles and bricks.
New York City gave the Stonewall Inn historic landmark status in June with a unanimous vote by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. At the time, The Stonewall Inn was already part of the Greenwich Village Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The New York City designation as a city landmark marked “the first time a site is designated as a New York City landmark primarily for its significance to LGBT history,” according to the city’s designation (PDF).
National parks can only be created by an act of Congress. They include sites of cultural or historic importance.
Gillibrand says she and Nadler are first asking President Barack Obama to declare Stonewall a monument. A congressional vote on park status would come later.
Gillibrand credited gay-rights activists for spurring action on giving greater recognition to the historic tavern.
During his second inauguration in 2013, Obama mentioned Stonewall and the struggle for LGBT equality as being on a par with women's and civil rights.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press