A slew of politicians have announced their support for a plan to make a national park honoring gay and trans history at the Stonewall Inn.
— Congressman Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) September 20, 2015
The city made the Stonewall a designated landmark earlier this summer, and the National Parks Conservation Association has been pushing to make Christopher Park across the street a national park. That would require the city handing over control to the National Park Service, and an act of Congress creating a new national park site. A park honoring the uprising against homophobic police action at Stonewall would be the first honoring LGBT people.
The list of supporters for a national park includes Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Sens. Kirsten Gellibrand and Charles Schumer, 11 other congressmembers, 13 state senators, 37 assemblymembers, 5 councilmembers, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
PBS's American Experience documentary on the Stonewall Riots explained their context this way:
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. Such raids were not unusual in the late 1960s, an era when homosexual sex was illegal in every state but Illinois. [...] In the late 1960s, the American Psychiatric Association still classified homosexuality as a mental disorder, and gay men and lesbian women received almost universal moral condemnation from mainstream religions. The act of homosexual sex, even in private homes, was punishable by a light fine, 20 years in prison, or even a life sentence.
New York City had the largest gay population in the United States. It was also the city that most aggressively upheld anti-sodomy laws. In the mid-1960s New York created police vice squads to raid gay bars and baths, and began using decoys to solicit and entrap gays. By 1966 over 100 men a week were arrested as a result of this effort.
The Stonewall Inn was not a fancy establishment -- even its regular customers described it as a dive. Operated by the Mafia, the bar served watered-down drinks without a liquor license. Its two dark rooms had no running water -- just a tub where the drinking glasses were rinsed for reuse. The Stonewall Inn was, however, one of the only places gay people in New York City could socialize, providing a rare haven where they could drink, dance to the jukebox, and be themselves.
The National Parks Conservation Association has launched a petition in favor of making a Stonewall memorial park here.