The nation’s first national monument to honor the LGBT community and its history will be dedicated Wednesday at noon, but the Trump administration is working to ensure it has absolutely nothing to do with it.
In June of 2016 President Barack Obama issued a proclamation creating the Stonewall National Monument in New York City’s Greenwich Village. A national monument designation ceremony was held in conjunction with that proclamation on site. (In the photo above, from last year’s ceremony, the late Edie Windsor can be seen second from the left.)
“The Stonewall Uprising is considered by many to be the catalyst that launched the modern LGBT civil rights movement,” President Obama’s 5-page proclamation reads. “From this place and time, building on the work of many before, the Nation started the march — not yet finished — toward securing equality and respect for LGBT people.”
That proclamation directs the Secretary of the Interior to “manage the monument through the National Park Service.” But under the Trump administration, the Dept. of the Interior is pulling its support.
Veteran journalist Andy Humm of Gay City News reports that when the Trump administration “saw the pre-publicity on the ceremony, the National Park Service under Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Department of the Interior worked to certify that the flagpole adjacent to Christopher Park was not technically on federal land so that no Rainbow Flag would be flying on US government property.”
Not only did the Trump administration work to ensure the Pride flag would not be flying on federal lands, the Interior Dept.’s representative who had been working on the project at the last minute has dropped out.
“The National Park Service’s Barbara Applebaum, who arranged the permit for the event, dropped out as a speaker at the ceremony — her office citing a schedule conflict — and organizers of the event said in a release that the Park Service dropped its sponsorship of the event for which it had issued the permit to veteran gay activist Michael Petrelis,” Humm reports.
But there appears to be some conflict as to whether or not the flagpole is on federal land.
“Maps of the monument, including those provided to Petrelis, do include the flagpole,” Humm’s reporting notes. “And whatever other status it may have, it sits within the designated monument area — though not on federal land, the Park Service is now saying.”
So desperate to divorce itself from the monument, the National Park Service’s website has taken down “the page that had the map for the Stonewall National Monument,” Humm adds.
And even though the dedication is today, the National Park Service makes no mention of it on its website. The page for the monument says it has not been updated since Sept. 7. The National Park Service’s Facebook page, which is updated daily, makes no mention of today’s dedication.
Those who have worked on the project are angered.
“This is an unbelievably petty, sleazy, transparent bit of cruelty by the Trump administration,” says Ann Northrop, who, along with Humm has been co-hosting the weekly news show “Gay USA” since 1985. Northrop is presiding over the dedication.
“Evidently,” she adds, “we are so filthy to them and their right-wing supporters that they can’t even be associated with a few yards of rainbow fabric.”
Northrop is not the only one speaking out.
Ken Kidd, a main organizer of Wednesday’s dedication ceremony, calls the Trump administration’s moves “emblematic of what’s happening in the country right now to LGBTQ Americans citizens.”
“We’re being told at every turn — including Trump’s first decision to appoint Pence — that actions will be taken to make us second-class citizens again,” Kidd told Gay City News. “The very idea that taxpayer dollars were spent researching a flagpole on a national monument when there are so many other things at stake in the country is an outrage. Some employee of the Park Service or Interior read that Newsweek preview article on this because Donald Trump’s name was mentioned by me. They are so thin-skinned and so bigoted that they were going to spite us and not let that Rainbow Flag fly on federal property.”
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Image by U.S. Dept. of the Interior via Flickr and a CC license
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Authored by Sophie Ryan