First National Monument Honoring LGBT History

July 18, 2016Tracy Wolf

A few months ago on the RAC blog, I wrote about the campaign to make the historic Stonewall Inn a national monument as a part of the United States National Park Service. On June 24, President Obama designated Stonewall National Monument to honor the LGBT equality movement. Click here to watch the video of the White House announcing the Stonewall National Monument.

The Stonewall Inn is known as the birthplace of the modern LGBT rights movement: in June 1969, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back against what had become regular and tolerated harassment against gay people by the New York City Police Department. For the first time in history, LGBT people refused to accept the status quo of oppression and stood up for themselves and the greater LGBT community. The Stonewall Inn, and the uprising there, became an iconic flashpoint that sparked the long battle towards equality for the LGBT community. In recognizing the importance in commemorating this piece of American History, the Union for Reform Judaism joined a letter asking President Obama to use his executive power to create the Stonewall National Monument. The creation of this national landmark is a victory for the LGBT community and allies across the country.

One of Judaism’s core teachings is that all human beings are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the Divine image, and that we should treat everyone as deserving equal dignity and respect. Excluding anyone from our community stands in direct violation of this affirmation of our tradition. It is important that as we work towards greater inclusion of the LGBT community, we celebrate the history of the LGBT rights movement and include LGBT history in our shared narratives. The designation of the Stonewall Inn as a national monument furthers this goal.

Although this was a victory for the LGBT community, and something important to celebrate during LGBT Pride Month, we must remember that LGBT individuals still face continued discrimination. Most states do not have laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination, and federally, there is no law that prohibits discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, public accommodations, federal funding, education, jury duty and credit. The Equality Act (H.R. 3185/S. 1858) will address this issue by amending existing civil rights laws to include protections based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. If passed, the Equality Act would protect LGBT people from many forms of discrimination and will provide an avenue for recourse for victims of discrimination. Build on the momentum from the creation of Stonewall National Monument and urge your Members of Congress to cosponsor the Equality Act.

To learn more about LGBT rights, visit our issue page

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