By David Pendered
The observance in Atlanta Sunday of the city’s first annual LGBT Equality Day arrived as President Obama announces plans to designate a new national monument at the site of Stonewall Inn, the New York site where a police raid in 1969 sparked the nation’s current LGBT movement.
Atlanta’s LGBT Equality Day resulted from a resolution signed in September 2015 by every member of the Atlanta City Council. The resolution was sponsored by Atlanta Councilmember Kwanza Hall, who invited Councilmember Alex Wan, the first openly gay man to serve on the council, to join him for a presentation and to make remarks as the resolution was affirmed.
The observance of LGBT day on Sunday came as Atlanta and other cities continued to reflect on the June 12 mass shootings at Pulse, an LGBT club in Orlando. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has met with 35 leaders and business owners in the LGBT community to discuss safety concerns, his office announced June 21.
“Atlanta has a rich and storied history as the cradle of the Civil Rights movement, of upholding human rights and providing equal opportunity to all people,” Reed said in a statement.
“Our city recognizes that providing equal opportunity to the LGBT community means creating an environment where people feel safe and supported in living openly as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender,” Reed said. “I look forward to continuing this important conversation and working together with our LGBT community to ensure their safety and security.”
Safety and security was on full display in New York during the city’s annual gay pride parade. The New York Police Department planned to have K-9 dogs checking for explosive devices, officers patrolling with radiation detection devices, surveillance from helicopters and rooftop, as well as officers on boats observing events that took place along piers, according to a report by reuters.com.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joined the march for a few blocks in an unannounced visit. She walked beside New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, according to standardnews.com.
The parade started in Midtown Manhattan and ended in Greenwich Village, home to Stonewall Inn.
On June 24, two days before the march, Obama designated Stonewall and its immediate vicinity as the nation’s first LGBT national monument.
Obama set the stage for the designation in his 2013 inaugural address. Obama delivered remarks that are said to be the first-ever in an inaugural address to address the fight for LGBT rights:
- “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall;…”
In stating Obama’s intentions to make Stonewall a national monument, the White House issued a release that observed:
“Today [June 24], President Obama will designate a new national monument at the historic site of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City to honor the broad movement for LGBT equality. The new Stonewall National Monument will protect the area where, on June 28, 1969, a community’s uprising in response to a police raid sparked the modern LGBT civil rights movement in the United States.
- “The designation will create the first official National Park Service unit dedicated to telling the story of LGBT Americans, just days before the one year anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing marriage equality in all 50 states. Additionally, in celebration of the designation and New York City’s Pride festival, the White House, in coordination with the National Park Foundation and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, is releasing a video that will be played on the billboards in Times Square on Saturday, June 25, beginning at 12:00pm ET.
- “The new Stonewall National Monument will permanently protect Christopher Park, a historic community park at the intersection of Christopher Street, West 4th Street and Grove Street directly across from the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. The monument’s boundary encompasses approximately 7.7 acres of land, including Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn, and the surrounding streets and sidewalks that were the site of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.”
The White House statement provided the following history of the role of Stonewall in the civil rights movement:
- “On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, one of the most frequented LGBT bars in the city, was raided by the New York City Police Department to enforce a law that made it illegal to sell alcoholic drinks to ‘homosexuals.’ Customers and their allies resisted the police by refusing to show identification or go into a bathroom so that a police officer could verify their sex, and a crowd gathered outside.
- “As word spread, the gathering grew in size and a riot ultimately ensued. Within days, Stonewall seemed to galvanize LGBT communities across the country, with LGBT activists organizing demonstrations to show support for LGBT rights in several cities.
- “These events, which are now often referred to as the Stonewall Uprising, are widely considered to be a watershed moment when the LGBT community across the nation demonstrated its power to join together and demand equality and respect.”