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The President's Weekly Address

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 towards the mountaintop of freedom.

Sometimes, we can mark that progress in special places, hallowed ground where our history was written, places like Independence Hall, Gettysburg, Seneca Falls, Kitty Hawk, and Cape Canaveral. Well, 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. The riots became protests; the protests became a movement; the movement ultimately became an integral part of America.

Over the past 7 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 1 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 2 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.

NOTE: The address was recorded at approximately 2:40 p.m. on June 15 in the State Dining Room at the White House for broadcast on June 25. Proclamation 9465, which established the Stonewall National Monument, was signed on June 24. The transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on June 24, but was embargoed for release until 6 a.m. on June 25. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of this address.

Barack Obama, The President's Weekly Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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