For the first time, the rainbow flag will wave permanently on United States federal property, marking a triumph for the LGBTQ community despite the Donald Trump administration's attempts to smother the community’s rights.
New York’s Stonewall Inn raised the symbolic flag during a ceremony at noon in celebration of National Coming Out Day in the presence of members of the LGBTQ community, where it will fly near the Stonewall National Monument.
The inn was named a historical site in 2016 by former U.S. President Barack Obama in recognition of the rebellion that took place there in June 1969 that set off the modern LGBTQ rights movement. Within the 5-page proclamation, Obama ensured that the Secretary of the Interior would “manage the monument through the National Park Service.”
However, just days before the event, a statement from the National Parks of New York Harbor’s chief of communications Mindy Anderson announced the institution’s decision to withdraw its support from the event, citing that the flagpole was not federal property and therefore not the responsibility of the U.S. government or of the agency.
“The only federal property is within the fence line of Christopher Park and some of the gardens. The other area is of historical significance because of the history there for interpretation purposes,” she said.
Anderson went on to say that park services made the discovery while filling the necessary paperwork for a permit.
“The flagpole is not on federal property. It’s a separate monument to the first person killed in the Civil War. It has never been part of the Stonewall National Monument, although it is located there. The flagpole is not managed by the Park Service. We gifted the flag to New York City Parks,” Anderson said, adding that the right to fly the rainbow colors has not been revoked and that the responsibility of maintaining the flagpole would be deferred to municipal authorities.
The sudden move was denounced by many LGBTQs, who said it was part of the Trump administration’s frequent attempts to roll back the rights of the community.
“Since planning began this past summer, the NPS had been wholly cooperative,” said Ken Kidd, a spokesperson for the organizers. “This abrupt turn-around, as well as the NPS distancing itself from this event, is more evidence of the Trump administration’s campaign to reduce LGBT people to second-class American citizens. It’s no coincidence that this comes on the heels of Attorney General Sessions’ support of religious rights over LGBT civil rights.”
Despite the controversy, event organizers proceeded with the ceremony, raising the flag on the 30th anniversary of the first March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The members of the NPS scheduled to speak at the event did not attend the ceremony.