June 24, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children, 505-244-9505
ALBUQUERQUE— New Mexico Voices for Children today applauded President Obama’s designation of the Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a National Monument. The historic building and park are seen as the birthplace of the struggle for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
“The protection of basic human and civil rights is a core value in the work we do at New Mexico Voices for Children,” said Veronica García, Ed.D., executive director of NM Voices. “This monument is a statement that our country values inclusion, celebrates diversity, and honors the story of the long struggle for equal rights for our LGBT community.”
Using his authority under the Antiquities Act, President Obama made the designation on June 24. The Stonewall Inn, which was a gay bar at the time, was the site of a week-long uprising in 1969 that was touched off when patrons fought back against a routine police raid. The historic building dates back to the mid-19th century and was also the home of a Prohibition-era tearoom called Bonnie’s Stone Wall. Christopher Park, a small, triangular park, is across the street.
“This monument is also a demonstration that the fight for equality is ongoing. Despite the U.S. Supreme Court upholding marriage equality, families still face discrimination regarding employer benefits and child custody issues,” said Dr. García. “LGBT youth are still at more risk for suicide than straight youth, and there are still states that seek to enshrine discrimination against LGBT people within state statute, so the work continues.”
Shortly after the uprising, members of the gay community began to organize, leading to the formation of gay activist groups and some of the first gay and lesbian activist newspapers. The first gay pride marches took place in major U.S. cities in June 1970 commemorating the one year anniversary of the uprising. Gay pride events are still commonly held at the end of June each year to commemorate the Stonewall rebellion.
“America’s national parks tell our diverse stories and teach valuable lessons about our shared heritage, from the Underground Railroad to Buffalo Soldiers in Yosemite, the San Antonio Missions, and Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty,” said Dr. García.
New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities.
625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org