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Stonewall National Monument



In the last year of the Obama administration, expect to see a large number of new national park sites named, largely national monuments since the president can do this unilaterally (other forms of National Park System status have to be approved by Congress). This has become a standard way for Democratic presidents to seal their legacy back to the Carter administration. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with proper funding to the NPS, which is horrendously underfunded, leading to the need to start selling corporate naming rights. That’s what an anti-government Congress and an $11 billion maintenance backlog will do, not to mention the increased need to spend money trying to erase graffiti left by idiots showing off.

Anyway, protecting public spaces is a great thing and one thing that makes the United States different than most if not all other nations is that telling historical stories about our nation is part of the national park mission. Moreover, those stories have moved on from protecting Civil War battlefields to telling very difficult stories through these government sponsored sites, such as the Sand Creek Massacre. Other stories are the inspirational stories of social movements that sometimes are still controversial today. A couple of weeks ago, Obama created the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, which is the building in Washington that was the offices of Alice Paul and the National Women’s Party. That’s cool, even though Paul and the NWP was horrible on basically every single issue after 1920, including working with corporations to oppose labor legislation both intended specifically to help women and labor legislation intended to protect all workers. Obviously, the park will focus on the fight for women’s suffrage, which is fine. Maybe someday those other stories can be told.

Obama is also about to create a national park site out of Stonewall, the New York bar where resistance to police violence started up the modern gay rights movement.

On the same day that the Justice Department and the state of North Carolina filed dueling lawsuits over whether transgender Americans have the right to access the restroom facilities of their choice, administration officials took a step toward designating the first national monument commemorating the gay-rights movement.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis joined New York officials Monday night in Greenwich Village to get public feedback on whether to make Stonewall Inn, the site of a 1969 public uprising after a police raid on a bar frequented by gay men, into a national park. Roughly 250 people attended, according to participants, all of whom endorsed the idea.

‘‘Do I hear unanimous support?’’ Jarvis asked at the end of the meeting, according to several attendees. The crowd called out in response, ‘‘Yes!’’

Even better, Franklin Graham has the sads.

To Franklin Graham, the evangelical leader, such a monument seems to be courting spiritual disaster for the nation. In a Facebook post on Friday morning, Graham wrote to his 3.6 million followers: “That’s unbelievable. War heroes deserve a monument, our nation’s founding fathers deserve a monument, people who have helped to make America strong deserve a monument — but a monument to sin? … I can’t believe how far our country has digressed. I hope that the president will reconsider. Flaunting sin is a dangerous move.”


Obama has really worked hard to make the National Park System look like America.

Obama has already designated or expanded 23 national monuments — more than any previous president. Most significant, perhaps, is how many of those sites have recognized the history of women, blacks, Latinos and Asian-Americans.

“They’ve done an outstanding job in terms of diversifying the park system in their relatively short time in office,” said Kristen Brengel, vice president of government affairs at the National Parks Conservation Association. “It’s been great to watch.”

Obama designated the César Chávez National Monument in October 2012 at the California site where the civil rights activist lived and led the United Farm Workers union. He named the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland in March 2013.

In February 2015, the president designated both the Pullman National Monument in Chicago, an important site in African-American and labor history, and Hawaii’s Honouliuli National Monument, which recognizes a World War II-era camp where people of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated.

And just last month, he designated the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington D.C., calling it “a monument to a fight not just for women’s equality but, ultimately, for equality for everybody.”

There are more excellent sites that I would argue for as well. To the linked list, I’d add the site of the Triangle Fire. Really, any perusal of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Most Endangered Places list for each year suggests interesting possibilities. I particularly hope Obama chooses to create a site or two that tells the Asian-American experience outside of just the Japanese internment camps.

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  • CP

    Fuck Franklin Graham. Not wild about his dad, either, but the kid’s just an unambiguous piece of shit.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Yeah, he works at it.

      And he sure loves the war and the killing. Oh wait, didn’t his dad egg on Nixon to bomb the dikes upstream of Hanoi?

      (Uh, since we’re talking the Reverends Graham, that’s river dikes. The bombing of which could have caused flooding to kill thousands.)

      • so-in-so

        If he heard of any others, I’m sure he would have favored bombing them as well.

    • efgoldman

      Fuck Franklin Graham.

      If there really were a god, he and Pat Robertson and the rest of the god-bothering loons would have been struck by lightning years ago.

  • Ken

    Flaunting sin is a dangerous move.

    I look forward to Franklin Graham’s call to abolish all monuments honoring persons who fought to preserve slavery.

    Either that, or his explanation of why slavery isn’t a sin – he can check the historical records for pointers, there were plenty of preachers who made Scriptural arguments.

    • sibusisodan

      You said what was going to say better than could have done.

  • howard

    in the spring of 1969, 16-year-old me, living in allentown, pa., subscribed to the village voice.

    that summer, i spent 7 weeks in israel on a jewish youth group tour and when i got home (having just missed woodstock and chickened out on smuggling hash into the country, stories for another day), my parents had dutifully saved all my mail, including my village voices.

    and so in late august, 1969, reading through that summer’s village voices, i first heard of stonewall and gay liberation, and it made such a powerful impression on me – the idea that gay people were people too, which i had probably never previously given two seconds of thought to given how closeted the culture was – i can’t agree more that this is a well-deserved honoring.

  • Joe_JP

    Nice. Reminds me of that episode of West Wing where President Bartlett noted the paucity of sites concerning women’s history.

    • Hogan

      After Abbey beat it into him.

  • I’m very excited about the Stonewall monument, Graham can choke on a half-brick.

    • DrS

      Crammed down his throat…so to speak.

  • DrS

    Always great when you can do the right thing. The apoplexy of the usual shitheels is just pure bonus.

    • Brad Nailer

      I’m with you. Fuck them.

    • AttorneyAtPaw

      The “Apoplexy of the Usual Shitheels”… Sounds like it could be one of the segments of a Catholic mass.

  • JL

    I’m excited about this monument both because of the significance to LGBTQ history, and because in general I appreciate recognizing who fought and bled for our freedom while at home as civilians, rather than declaring that the military has a monopoly on fighting for freedom.

    I can’t imagine that people who care about either of those care about Franklin Graham’s thoughts on the matter other than to point and laugh.

    • Ben Murphy

      I’m excited about this monument both because of the significance to LGBTQ history, and because in general I appreciate recognizing who fought and bled for our freedom while at home as civilians, rather than declaring that the military has a monopoly on fighting for freedom.

      Enthusiastically seconded! I also hope the monument gives a picture of the full LGBTQ participation (not just cis white gay men, Roland Emmerich) in both Stonewall itself and the groups/movements that came before and after.

      • JL

        Yeah. I mean, I would really hope that people charged with making a national monument wouldn’t screw up as much as Emmerich!

  • rea

    Franklin Graham is God’s punishment of the US for intolerance and bigotry toward LGBTs.

    • so-in-so

      And for our ‘tolerance’ for religious based bigotry and de-facto embrace of Christianity as the effective national religion.

  • Nick Conway

    Glad to see that he is making moves to create historically significant monuments like Stonewall.

    Perhaps more controversial are potential large monuments, covering huge areas in the Southwest that would help protect cultural resources and archeological sites. I’m pretty hopeful that Obama will move on these as well before his term is up. Some of the monument fights happening currently:

    Gold Butte:
    This is Cliven Bundy country in Southern Nevada, which makes a potential monument even more controversial. Employees have to be careful in this area, because BLM employees doing surveys have been shot at in the past.
    The proposed monument would protect culturally significant areas, including some beautiful canyons and tons of petroglyphs and village sites. The proposal is strongly supported by the Southern Paiutes, you can sign the petition supporting Gold Butte here.

    Bear Ears:
    A monument that would protect cliff dwellings and natural areas in Southern Utah. This monument is really interesting, as it has been pushed by a large coalition of several tribes who would have significant control over the monument in their proposal. Cooperative management of national monument and park sites has been tried in the past, with mixed results, but this one would give a lot more power to the Tribes, and also is different since the Tribes are actually pushing for national monument status rather than resisting it. The ultraconservatives in Utah have responded by making the racist claim that the Tribes are being duped by environmentalists, and don’t really want the monument. There have been some signs of a divide in support among tribes, especially among the Navajo, but most tribes remain strongly in support of this monument to protect the fragile archeological sites of their ancestors, as many grave sites have been looted and destroyed. Sign the petition here.

    Great Bend of the Gila:
    This monument would protect archeological sites along the Gila River in southern Arizona. Congressman Raúl Grijalva has introduced legislation to create a monument, but it likely has little chance of passing. Hopefully Obama will take action on this monument as well.

  • Bruce Vail

    I was in Dallas on Saturday. I was surprised that there is no NPS history park at Dealey Plaza.

    I’m told by the locals that it is a popular tourist site, and that hundreds of people show up every day.

    The 6th Floor Museum (old Texas Book Depository) is apparently a private, for-profit business enterprise.

    • The NPS wouldn’t nationalize an existing operation without the approval of the people involved. The JFK Birthplace NHS in Boston is incredibly lame.

  • Henry Holland

    the New York bar where resistance to police violence started up the modern gay rights movement

    Oh, that ol’ lie. Unless you consider 1950 to not be “modern”, the “modern gay rights movement” started here in Los Angeles that year, when Harry Hay founded The Mattachine Society. The Mattachine Society and the lesbian Daughters of Bilitis in San Francisco (formed 1955) were doing gay & lesbian civil rights work long before the groups that sprung up in the wake of the Stonewall incident such as the Gay Liberation Front. A good number of the people who were part of the GLF and other groups were either members or had been in The Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis.

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