US President Barack Obama is set to declare the country's first-ever national monument representing the birthplace of America's modern gay liberation movement. Those in support of the move believe that the recognition, although symbolic, could strengthen the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Obama is set to designate a patch of green space spanning less than two-tenths of an acre that lies opposite the Stonewall Inn and part of the surrounding Greenwich Village neighbourhood in New York City for the monument, The Washington Post reported, adding that the formal declaration could come as early as June.
The Stonewall Inn, which was frequented by gay men, was witness to a six-day-long protest that began in the early morning of 28 June, 1969 after police raided the area and detained many bystanders.
The area to be recognised as the monument would reportedly be the first national monument anchored by a dive bar and surrounded by a network of narrow streets, which has been regarded as the historic centre of gay cultural life in New York City for a long time.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, National Park Service Director Jonathan B Jarvis and Rep Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and other federal officials are preparing to conduct a session on 9 May to solicit feedback on the proposal regarding the national monument.
Without confirming reports about the designation of national monuments for gay rights movement, interior department spokeswoman Amanda Degroff reportedly said Obama "has made clear that he's committed to ensuring our national parks, monuments and public lands help Americans better understand the places and stories that make this nation great."
The paper also quoted her as saying that Jewell and Jarvis are attending next week's public meeting at the invitation of Nadler as well as federal, state and local officials.
Nadler, who has co-authored the legislation that would recognise the earmarked area as a national park, was quoted as saying in a statement: "The legacy of Stonewall, the history of discrimination against the [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] community, or the impassioned individuals who have fought to overcome it" should never be forgotten.
"The LGBT civil rights movement launched at Stonewall is woven into American history, and it is time our National Park system reflected that reality," Nadler added. The LGBT community's fight for liberation led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that legalised same-sex marriage in America.
Nadler and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand reportedly requested the president to protect the site under the 1906 Antiquities Act. Their request was supported by City Council member Corey Johnson, state assembly member Deborah Glick and state senator Brad Hoylman — the three officials of the area who are all openly gay. The local community advisory board also supported the proposal.
In April, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation, backed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and several state lawmakers. The legislation would allow the city to transfer ownership of Christopher Park to the federal government if it is designated as a monument.