Written by Connie Larkman
The national leadership of the United Church of Christ is celebrating the new national monument status of an LBGT landmark. The Stonewall Inn, in New York's Greenwich Village, has been designated the Stonewall National Monument by President Barack Obama, the first addition to the National Park System honoring the history of the LBGT community.
In the Stonewall uprising in 1969, recognized as the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, bar patrons fought back against police persecution—an event that's widely seen as a watershed moment in the campaign for LGBT rights.
"God speaks into history in surprising places, even a bar that was the site of an uprising," the UCC national officers write in a statement released immediately following the landmark designation. "We have been witnesses to this struggle and the positive role many houses of worship have played in the movement for freedom and equality. We affirm this monument as a new place where people of faith and conscience may also commemorate the struggle for respecting human rights and honoring the worth and dignity God has bestowed every human person."
Stonewall, a symbol of how far the LGBT community has come, will, as a National Monument, ensure that the history of that community will be preserved for generations to come.
Here is the complete text of the statement released by the UCC national officers:
"We, the Collegium of Officers of the United Church of Christ commend the designation of The Stonewall National Monument, which is the first national monument that focuses on acknowledging the historic contributions of LGBTQ people and their struggle for human rights.
Our National Parks and Monuments System exists to share our country’s collective memory. The designation of this monument is a first step in the process of officially including the LGBTQ community and experience into our nation’s history.
God speaks into history in surprising places, even a bar that was the site of an uprising. We have been witnesses to this struggle and the positive role many houses of worship have played in the movement for freedom and equality. We affirm this monument as a new place where people of faith and conscience may also commemorate the struggle for respecting human rights and honoring the worth and dignity God has bestowed every human person.
The Stonewall Inn was a bar where LGBTQ people gathered in the 1960s. At that time, few establishments welcomed openly LGBTQ people. Like many gay bars in the 1960s, the Stonewall Inn was frequently subject to police raids. On June 28, 1969, riots erupted among people defending their right to gather. One year later, New York City organized the first Gay Pride parade in commemoration of the riots, and Gay Pride has since become an annual tradition. And, just a few months before the Stonewall uprising, April 12, 1969, the United Church of Christ Council for Christian Social Action adopted a resolution on Homosexuality and the Law, declaring its “opposition to all laws which make private homosexual relations between consenting adults a crime” and “its opposition to the total exclusion of homosexuals from public employment and from enlistment and induction into the armed forces.” United Church of Christ churches and leaders have been part of the LGBTQ struggle for justice and equality since before Stonewall and continue to stand with the LGBTQ community today.
This monument will be a place of pride, comfort and learning for many. It will also recognize the struggle and history that the LGBTQ community possesses. While there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve human rights for the LGBTQ community and all people, today we celebrate a milestone."
The National Officers of the United Church of Christ,
Rev. John Dorhauer
General Minister and President
Rev. James Moos
Executive Minister, Wider Church Ministries
Rev. Traci Blackmon
Acting Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries