The protected area will include Christopher Park across from the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, which has long served as a landmark for the LGBT community. The inn, a popular gay bar, continues to serve as a gathering place for demonstrations. The Stonewall riots in 1969 marked a major turning point in the fight for gay rights. The monument commemorates the protests and riots on June 28, 1969, when the New York Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn seeking to crack down on a law prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to homosexuals. The riots were seen as an inflection point in the LGBT community as protests spread to cities across the country.
"Today’s designation follows years of strong support from local officials, organizations, members of Congress and citizens in New York City and across the country," the White House said in a press release.
Along with the announcement, the White House is releasing a video reviewing the historical significance of Stonewall with narration from the president. The video will play on the billboards in Times Square Saturday at noon during the city's Pride festival.
The announcement from the White House also includes a reference to the Pulse gay nightclub massacre in Orlando on June 12.
“Although the LGBT civil rights movement has made significant progress in the pursuit of equal rights and protections under the law, there is still more work to do," according to the release. "As seen two weeks ago in Orlando, FL, LGBT Americans continue to face acts of violence, discrimination, and hate. LGBT people of color are especially at risk. The Administration is committed to continuing the fight for dignity, acceptance and equal rights for all Americans — no matter who they are or who they love.”
The announcement is being framed as a culmination of the eight years of the Obama administration's policy promoting LGBT rights. After the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage one year ago, the White House celebrated by lighting up the entrance that faces Pennsylvania Avenue in rainbow colors.