The New Mexico Federation of Labor celebrates President Obama’s designation of the Stonewall National Monument in New York City.
In the summer of 1969, it was here that the struggle for LGBTQ equality erupted into a full-blown movement demanding equality and respect. Stonewall symbolizes the beginning of a movement which gave rise to pride day celebrations and helped evolve our country into the more civilized society we continue striving to become today.
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 LGBTQ civil rights movement in the United States.
“This is why we elected this guy. This is why we will miss him,” said Jon Hendry, President of the New Mexico Federation of Labor. “He’s the president for all Americans and this monument shows his commitment to inclusivity. Stonewall is for all Americans who believe we must build bridges and not walls, and that we must continue to rise and unite in ways which have impact, especially in the face tragedy. Thanks, Obama!”
New Mexico Labor recognizes that the strongest protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer working people are found in a union contract.
Working people in unions have fought hard to make sure that employers cannot discriminate against people. This includes helping pass laws that protect LGBT working people. New Mexico Labor knows discrimination still goes on, and it must be confronted.
“Stonewall isn’t just a bar, it’s a rallying cry for the LGBTQ community. We like to say proudly,’Stonewall was a riot,’ because it was,” said Jerame Davis, Executive Director of Pride at Work, AFL-CIO. “No place is more directly linked to the struggle for LGBTQ liberation than the Stonewall Inn. At a point in history when more than half of states still don’t bar LGBTQ discrimination and 49 people in Orlando gave their lives just for being themselves, I can’t think of a more appropriate and poignant national monument to be dedicated by the President who has done so much to advance LGBTQ freedoms.”
Stonewall has lessons to teach, and as a National Monument, that struggle for equality will have a greater voice to reach all Americans; young, old, and future generations.
“The designation of the Stonewall Inn is timely. Coming so soon after the tragedy in Orlando, and during Pride Month, the Stonewall is a reminder of the continual struggle for full equality for LGBT+ Americans and also a solemn memorial to those who willingly faced persecution in the name of progress for all. It is my fervent hope that the Stonewall will continue to be a beacon for all Americans faced with adversity, and a continual reminder that no matter what, it will get better,” said Stephanie Ly, President, American Federation of Teachers New Mexico.
It is impossible, and likely naive, to try and envision a final victory in the struggle for complete LGBTQ equality. A civilized people must not look upon the struggle for all types of justice as a finite thing or a race to be won. The struggle to overcome is a decision we make each morning, to stand for what is right and just, to be dignified and resilient when confronted by adversity, or too often, tragedy.
The struggle for LGBTQ equality is simply about everyday Americans, our friends, our neighbors, and our co-workers, who deserve to enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else to pursue health and happiness, earn a good living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love.
So while we cannot see the end of this road we travel, we’re heartened by reflecting on its beginnings with 20/20 vision. The Stonewall National Monument wasn’t the only beginning, but it was a pivotal rallying point in the early days of America’s LGBTQ equality movement.
New Mexico is not one of the 29 states where it is legal to fire a worker simply for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Still, New Mexico has a long way to go to shun antiquated ways of thinking and guarantee full freedom and rights of citizenship to an estimated 50,000 LGBTQ New Mexicans.