“Now, each June since I took office, we have gathered to pay tribute to the generations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans who devoted their lives to our most basic of ideals--equality not just for some, but for all,” Obama said.
“Together we’ve marked major milestones like the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, when a group of brave citizens held their ground against brutal discrimination,” said Obama. “Together, we’ve honored courageous pioneers who, decades ago, came out and spoke out; who challenged unjust laws and destructive prejudices. Together, we’ve stood resolute; unwavering in our commitment to advance this movement and to build a more perfect union.”
The “Stonewall Riot” that president Obama referred to started when police raided a New York City saloon called the “Stonewall Inn” that catered to transvestites. In a 2010 obituary for Seymour Pine, the police inspector who led the raid, the New York Times reported the basic facts of the incident, describing the inn as "an illegal club frequented by cross-dressers."
“The club, on Christopher Street near Seventh Avenue South, was owned by members of the Mafia,” the Times reported. “Inspector Pine later said he conducted the raid on orders from superiors.
“About 200 people were inside,” said the Times. “When the officers ordered them to line up and show identification, some refused. Several transvestites refused to submit to anatomical inspections. Word of the raid filtered into the street, and soon hundreds of protesters gathered outside, shouting ‘gay power’ and calling the police ‘pigs.’
“The turning point came when a lesbian fought with officers as she was pushed into a patrol car,” said the Times. “The crowd rushed the officers, who retreated into the club. Several people ripped out a parking meter and used it as a battering ram; others tried to set fire to the club. It took police reinforcements an hour and a half to clear the street.
“It was the start of several nights of rioting, during which the police used force to disperse crowds that sometimes numbered in the thousands,” said the Times. “Fewer than three dozen protesters were arrested, but hundreds were detained and released.”
At Friday's White House reception, Obama predicted the LGBT movement would achieve the additional goals it seeks--including what he called "marriage equality"--because of what he perceives as their persuasiveness and the example they set.
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