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Stonewall Inn, site of 1969 riots, becomes national monument

Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, a participant in the 1969 Stonewall

Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, a participant in the 1969 Stonewall uprising, delivers remarks during a ceremony officially designating the Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park a national monument in Manhattan on Monday, June 27, 2016. Credit: Charles Eckert

An activist who recalled the chaos of the 1969 Stonewall riots joined other champions of LGBT causes and federal officials Monday in Manhattan to formally dedicate The Stonewall Inn as the first national monument to gay rights.

At a ceremony outside the Greenwich Village bar, artist Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, 68, of Manhattan, who participated in the uprising, remembered Stonewall as one of the few places where same-sex couples “could dance slowly together” and “where the affirmation of being human came full force to me.”

A 7.7-acre area that includes Stonewall Inn and nearby Christopher Park has been added to the list of national monuments commemorating civil rights movements in places such as Seneca Falls, New York, site of the first Women’s Rights Convention.

“The Stonewall uprising awakened a national consciousness to the humanity of LGBT equality,” said Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

She said Obama “believes our national parks should represent the inclusive mosaic of the American history. And it reflects our continued work to perfect our union.”

Members of the National Park Service unveiled a brown placard yesterday that read, “Stonewall National Monument.”

Obama, who announced the designation last Friday, did not attend. But elected officials expressed their gratitude, and Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat and the state’s only openly gay senator, jokingly called him “our first gay president.”

The June 12 attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people was heavy on people’s hearts. Outside The Stonewall Inn, a memorial thick with flowers and rainbow flags was still spreading.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “If an Orlando can happen in this country, we are far from done.”

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