Weekly Address: President Obama – Designating the Stonewall National Monument: “The arc of our history is clear – it’s an arc of progress.”

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

On Friday, June 24, President Obama designated the Stonewall National Monument – the first national monument dedicated to telling the story of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community’s struggle for equal rights. In this week’s address, the President talked about the importance of preserving and sharing this significant part of the American story. Although we have seen true progress over the years, the President acknowledged that the LGBT community still faces discrimination to this day. With that in mind, the President emphasized that as a country, we must continue to push for equality, acceptance and tolerance – because that’s what makes our country the greatest nation on earth.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Designating Stonewall National Monument

Remarks of President Barack Obama as Delivered
Weekly Address, The White House, June 25, 2016

Hi everybody. The story of America is a story of progress. It’s written by ordinary people who put their shoulders to the wheel of history to make sure that the promise of our founding applies not just to some of us – but to all of us.

Farmers and blacksmiths who chose revolution over tyranny. Immigrants who crossed oceans and the Rio Grande. Women who reached for the ballot, and scientists who shot for the moon. The preachers, and porters, and seamstresses who guided us toward the mountaintop of freedom.

Sometimes, we can mark that progress in special places – hallowed ground where history was written – places like Independence Hall. Gettysburg. Seneca Falls. Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral. The Edmund Pettus Bridge.

One of these special places is the Stonewall Inn. Back in 1969, as a turbulent decade was winding down, the Stonewall Inn was a popular gathering place for New York City’s LGBT community. At the time, being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender was considered obscene, illegal – even a mental illness.

One night, police raided the bar, and started arresting folks. Raids like these were nothing new – but this time, the patrons had had enough. So they stood up, and spoke out, and over the course of the next several days, they refused to be silenced. The riots became protests; the protests became a movement; the movement ultimately became an integral part of America.

Over the past seven years, we’ve seen achievements that would have been unimaginable to the folks who, knowingly or not, started the modern LGBT movement at Stonewall. Today, all Americans are protected by a hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is history. Insurance companies can no longer turn you away because of who you are. Transgender Americans are more visible than ever, helping to make our nation more inclusive and welcoming for all. And one year ago this weekend, we lit the White House in every color – because in every state in America, you’re now free to marry the person you love.

There’s still work to do. As we saw two weeks ago in Orlando, the LGBT community still faces real discrimination, real violence, real hate. So we can’t rest. We’ve got to keep pushing for equality and acceptance and tolerance.

But the arc of our history is clear – it’s an arc of progress. And a lot of that progress can be traced back to Stonewall. So this week, I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s national parks system. Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country – the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one. That’s what makes us the greatest nation on earth. And it’s what we celebrate at Stonewall – for our generation and for all those who come after us.

Thanks everybody, and have a great weekend.

Bolding added.

~

En Español: MENSAJE SEMANAL: Designando Stonewall National Monument

Comentarios del Presidente Barack Obama según los pronunció​, Mensaje semanal, La Casa Blanca, 25 de junio de 2016

Hola a todos. La historia de Estados Unidos es una historia de progreso. Escrita por personas comunes que pusieron el hombro a la rueda de la historia para asegurar que la promesa de nuestros fundadores se cumpliera no solo para algunos de nosotros – sino para todos.

Los granjeros y herreros que eligieron la revolución a la tiranía. Los inmigrantes que cruzaron océanos y el Río Grande. Las mujeres que reclamaron el voto y los científicos que llegaron a la luna. Los predicadores, los maleteros y las modistas que nos guiaron hacia la cima de la libertad.

A veces podemos marcar ese progreso en lugares especiales – espacios sagrados en donde se escribió la historia, lugares como Independence Hall. Gettysburg. Seneca Falls. Kitty Hawk y Cabo Cañaveral. El Puente Edmund Pettus.

Uno de estos lugares especiales es Stonewall Inn. En el 1969, mientras se iba calmando una década turbulenta, Stonewall Inn era un lugar popular de encuentro para la comunidad LGBT de la ciudad de Nueva York. En ese momento, ser homosexual, lesbiana, bisexual o transexual era considerado algo obsceno, ilegal – hasta una enfermedad mental.

Una noche, la policía hizo una redada en el bar y comenzó a arrestar a la gente. Las redadas como esta no eran nada nuevo, pero esta vez, los patrocinadores llegaron al límite. Así que se pararon, alzaron su voz y en el curso de los siguientes días, se rehusaron a ser silenciados. Los disturbios se convirtieron en protestas, las protestas se convirtieron en un movimiento, y el movimiento se convirtió en una parte integral de Estados Unidos.

En los últimos siete años, hemos visto logros que hubieran sido impensables para la gente que, sabiéndolo o no, comenzaron el movimiento moderno de LGBT en Stonewall. Hoy en día, gracias a la ley contra los crímenes motivados por el odio, que incluye la orientación sexual y la identidad de género, todos los estadounidenses están protegidos. La ley “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (No preguntes, no digas) pasó a la historia. Las compañías aseguradoras no pueden rechazar a nadie por quien es. Los estadounidenses transexuales están más a la vista que nunca, ayudando a que nuestra nación sea más inclusiva y acogedor para todos. Y hace un año, en este fin de semana, iluminamos la Casa Blanca de todos los colores – porque en todos los estados de los Estados Unidos ahora somos libres de casarnos con la persona que amamos.

Todavía hay mucho trabajo por hacer. Como vimos dos semanas atrás en Orlando, la comunidad LGBT todavía enfrenta una discriminación real, una violencia real, un odio real. Así que no podemos bajar los brazos. Debemos seguir empujando para lograr igualdad, aceptación y tolerancia.

Pero el arco de nuestra historia es bien claro – es un arco de progreso. Y gran parte de ese progreso punta directamente a Stonewall. Así que esta semana, estoy designando Stonewall National Monument como la más nueva adición de parques nacionales de Estados Unidos. Stonewall será nuestro primer monumento nacional que contará la historia de la lucha por los derechos de la comunidad LGBT. Creo que nuestros parques nacionales deben reflejar la historia completa de nuestro país; la riqueza, la diversidad y el espíritu excepcionalmente estadounidense que siempre nos ha definido. Unidos somos más fuertes. De muchos, somos uno. Eso es lo que nos hace el mejor país del mundo. Y es lo que celebramos en Stonewall – para nuestra generación y las siguientes.

Gracias a todos y que pasen un buen fin de semana.

~

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8 Comments

  1. President Obama:

    “I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s national parks system. Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country – the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one.”

    – President Barack Obama

    From the White House: President Obama Designates Stonewall National Monument

    Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have made historic strides in expanding opportunities and advancing equality and justice for all Americans, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. From major legislative achievements to historic court victories to important policy changes, the President has fought to promote the equal rights of all Americans — no matter who they are or who they love. That commitment to leveling the playing field and ensuring equal protection under the law is the bedrock principle this nation was founded on and has guided the President’s actions in support of all Americans.

    Today, 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.

    More about the monument at the link.

    White House blog post: Today, President Obama designated Stonewall National Monument to honor the broad LGBT equality movement.

  2. From Interior:

    US Dept of Interior @Interior

    Nat’l parks are America’s storyteller. Now we’ll tell story of LGBT Americans w/ Stonewall #FindYourPark #Pride2016

  3. WaPo’s Jonathan Capehart on President Obama’s LGBT legacy

    This monumental announcement comes one year after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Three years after Obama became the first sitting president to mention Stonewall in an inaugural address. Six years after the ban was lifted on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military. Forty-three years after the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. And 46 years after the first gay pride parade took place in New York City. […]

    But as important as the monument designation is to both [New York state Sen. Brad] Hoylman and [author of “The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America.”Charles] Kaiser, so is the person who made it.

    “It’s rightly become a moniker for LGBT and human rights everywhere,” Hoylman said of Stonewall. “And it’s entirely fitting that it’s being named a national monument by Barack Obama — the [first] African American president, the first president to mention Stonewall in an inaugural address, and the first president to support LGBT marriage equality.”

  4. In the News: Pentagon expected to repeal ban on transgender members next month

    The Pentagon plans to announce the repeal of its ban on openly serving transgender service members next month, U.S. defense officials said.

    The repeal would come five years after a 2011 decision to end the U.S. military’s ban on gays and lesbians serving openly, despite fears – which proved unfounded – that such a move would be too great a burden in wartime and would undermine readiness.

    The disclosure came the same week that the U.S. Army formally welcomed its new secretary, Eric Fanning, who is the first openly gay leader of a military service branch in U.S. history.

  5. In the News: Hillary Clinton op-ed on immigration rights in The Arizona Republic

    When Josie Mata was 7 years old, she learned that her mother was undocumented.

    From that moment on, Josie went to school every day afraid that she might return home to find her mom gone forever.

    The Matas live, work and pay taxes in Tucson. Josie now attends the University of Arizona. Yet like so many other mixed-status families, the threat that their lives could be torn apart is never far from mind.

    I’ve met many children and families who share this fear. In Las Vegas, a 10-year-old girl named Karla started to cry when she told me her parents had received a letter of deportation. She should have the chance to be the bright and happy little girl she is. Instead, she’s constantly afraid.

    It’s become all too easy to see why.

    Just this week, the Supreme Court deadlocked in a critical case, putting on hold executive actions taken by President Obama to provide immigrant families relief from deportation. It was heartbreaking and unacceptable.

    And while our system fails to provide certainty to immigrant families, political figures like Donald Trump turn them into scapegoats for many of the challenges facing American families today. His bigotry and fear-mongering may be an attempt to divide our country and distract from his lack of real solutions to raise incomes and create good paying jobs – but it’s not going to work.

    Let’s be clear: When Trump talks about forming a “deportation force” to round up and expel 11 million immigrants – he’s talking about ripping apart families like Karla’s and Josie’s.

    When he repeatedly suggests that a distinguished American judge’s “Mexican heritage” means that he cannot do his job, it’s the “textbook definition of a racist comment,” to quote the Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

    When he praises local figures like Gov. Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, he’s endorsing their heartless and divisive policies. And when he speculates about ending birthright citizenship, he’s suggesting undermining the Constitution and tearing American children away from the country they know and love.

    Instead of building walls, we ought to be breaking down barriers. Our country has always been stronger when we lift each other up, not tear each other down. We’re stronger together.

    That’s why, as president, I’ll fight for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to full and equal citizenship, starting in my first 100 days in office. We should do everything we can to keep families together, better integrate immigrants into their communities, and help those eligible for naturalization take the last step to citizenship.

    First, let’s focus on families. Today in Arizona, over 200,000 U.S. citizens – the vast majority of whom are children – live in the same household as an undocumented immigrant who qualifies for relief from deportation under the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program — the program put on hold by the Supreme Court this week.

    As a result of the court’s decision, these families, and millions more like them across our country, have been thrown into a state of uncertainty. As president, I’ll continue to defend DAPA and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) against partisan attacks.

    And I’ll do everything possible under the law to go further to protect families. That means ending large-scale raids, ending the practice of family detention and shutting down private detention facilities.

    Second, we need to increase our focus on integration and make sure that immigrants are able to thrive in American society. Let’s provide more federal resources to help immigrants learn the English language skills they need to be successful. And because this issue cuts across all levels of government – local, state and federal – I’ll create the first-ever Office of Immigrant Affairs at the White House to help coordinate these policies across the nation.

    Third, let’s help the 9 million people in our country who are currently eligible for naturalization become full citizens. They work and pay taxes – yet they cannot vote or serve on juries. Let’s expand fee waivers so that those seeking naturalization can get a break on the costs. And let’s step up our outreach and education, because no one should miss out on the chance to be a citizen.

    These steps aren’t just the right thing to do; they’ll also strengthen our entire country.

    Bringing more workers into the formal economy boosts everyone’s wages. Recent economic research suggests that comprehensive immigration reform could add more than 8,000 jobs and nearly $700 million to Arizona’s economy – so it would actually benefit every family in the state, no matter how long they’ve lived here.

    This is not a new fight for me.

    As a young woman, I investigated appalling conditions for migrant workers for a U.S. Senate committee, and I traveled across south Texas registering Latino voters. As First Lady, I convened the inaugural conference on Latino Children and Youth, to make sure that Latino boys and girls were getting the same opportunities as any other child. As a senator, I co-sponsored the Dream Act three times and stood with Ted Kennedy in our fight to pass comprehensive immigration reform. As president, I’m committed to seeing this fight through to the finish line.

    No matter what Donald Trump says, we have always been a nation of immigrants. Families like Josie’s and Karla’s are every bit as American as his or mine. And it is long past time we helped millions of hard-working people step out of the shadows and onto a path to a brighter future.

    Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Follow her on Twitter @HillaryClinton.

  6. In the News: Justice Department issues new rules for Mississippi county’s jails …

    Prisons in Hinds County, Mississippi, will see sweeping reforms under a new agreement unveiled Thursday by the Department of Justice.

    The deal requires the local government to address human rights abuses uncovered in its jails last year by the DOJ Civil Rights Division. Local and federal officials hope the changes will reduce recidivism and lower the county’s incarceration rate.

    The county had previously violated inmates’ civil rights by holding them past their release dates and not adequately protecting them from physical harm, the DOJ found in 2015.

    The deal will both cure those violations and require Hinds County to provide new resources to inmates to help them re-enter society upon release. The deal creates a “criminal justice coordinating committee” which will help ex-convicts to find housing, jobs, and mental health care so they are less likely to return to jail.

  7. In the News: Supreme Court decision brings chance for justice to Native American boy …

    A tied 4-4 decision in the Supreme Court [Thursday] allows a sexual assault case filed against a non-Native defendant to move forward in tribal courts.

    “This is a powerful victory for tribal sovereignty and Native women and children!” Jacqueline Agtuca, a lawyer and policy consultant for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, wrote in an email.

    “It would have been devastating had … tribal civil jurisdiction not been upheld,” said Rebecca Nagle, an anti-rape activist. “[It] would have been the most devastating case to Native American rights in half a century.”

    The lawsuit began back in 2003, when Dale Townsend, a manager at the Dollar General on a Choctaw reservation, allegedly molested a thirteen-year-old Choctaw boy participating in the company’s youth-opportunity program. The boy’s family sued Townsend, who is non-Native, and Dollar General in the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians tribal court. The defendants argued that the tribe didn’t have jurisdiction over them and filed injunctions.

  8. Three years ago yesterday, SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights Act leading to immediate changes that disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of voters in 16 states:

    Ari Berman @AriBerman

    3 years ago today Supreme Court gutted Voting Rights Act. From RBG’s brilliant dissent via @Demos_Org

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