Interior Secretary Laments: Still No Nat'l Park or Monument Marking 'Struggle for LGBT Rights'

By Susan Jones | April 20, 2016 | 11:29 AM EDT

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell offers her vision for the next 100 years of conservation in America in a speech at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (Photo from Interior Department website)

( - "For too long, our national parks have ignored important parts of our nation's story," and that includes the "struggle for LGBT rights," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday in a speech marking National Park Week.

Jewell noted that people like César Chávez, Harriet Tubman and the Buffalo Soldiers now have their contributions to this country "rightfully recognized" through the national park system.

And she mentioned that just last week, President Obama established the Belmont-Paul Women's Equalty National Monument in Washington, D.C.

"Still, with only a sliver of national parks and historic sites focused on women, minorities and underrepresented communities, there’s more to be done," Jewell said.

"Right now, there’s not one national park or national monument focused on the struggle for LGBT rights. And we haven’t done enough to celebrate the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, or Latinos, or Native Americans, or African Americans.

"That needs to change, and I look forward to continuing our efforts collectively to leave our national parks and public lands decisively more inclusive places than they were in 2009."

A gay bar could become the first national park or monument dedicated to the LGBT movement.

Last September, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, both New York Democrats, went to the Stonewall Inn in New York's Greenwich Village and urged President Obama to designate it as a national monument. National Parks are usually established by acts of Congress.

"[T]he Stonewall Inn deserves our highest recognition,” Gillibrand said at the time. The original tavern was the scene of a police raid and riots in 1969, and it is described as the birthplace of the "gay liberation" movement.

To foster diversity in the national park system, Jewell said she and her team will travel across the country this summer, "to hear from communities about their vision for conservationin the next hundred years.

"Our goal will be to find and highlight opportunities where we can make progress — both in the near and long term — to ensure that our parks and public lands are benefiting all Americans. From coast to coast, we’ll talk to communities about: What places are special to you and why? What’s important to your community’s economy, your identity, your heritage? And how can we make it easier for you to visit and enjoy your public lands?"

The National Park Service is marking its centennial this year.


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