Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Trump Administration Reverses On Support Of Rainbow Flag Raising At Stonewall National Monument


Yet another slap from the Trump administration as the National Park Service has pulled support for today's raising of the rainbow flag at the Stonewall National Monument in New York City.

In June of last year, President Obama issued a proclamation creating the Stonewall National Monument in New York City's Greenwich Village. The event today would signify the first time the rainbow flag, the international symbol of the LGBTQ community, would fly on federal land.

The dedication of the monument was no small deal. It was attended by high level politicians and officials including Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, US Representative Carolyn Maloney, DOMA plaintiff Edie Windsor, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Representative Jerrold Nadler, City Councilmember Corey Johnson, National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and Assemblymember Deborah Glick.

Now, however, it seems the National Park Service, under Secretary Ryan Zinke's Department of the Interior, took notice of the pre-event publicity and has declared that the flagpole is not on federal land and therefore not the responsibility of the Park Service.

This is some petty, petty stuff, folks. Tax dollars were spent researching the location and legality of a flag pole.

From Andy Hamm of Gay City News:

The National Park Service’s Barbara Applebaum, who arranged the permit for the event, dropped out as a speaker at the ceremony — her office citing a schedule conflict — and organizers of the event said in a release that the Park Service dropped its sponsorship of the event for which it had issued the permit to veteran gay activist Michael Petrelis.

Ann Northrop, co-host of Gay USA, who will preside over the dedication, said, “This is an unbelievably petty, sleazy, transparent bit of cruelty by the Trump administration. Evidently, we are so filthy to them and their right-wing supporters that they can’t even be associated with a few yards of rainbow fabric.”

In abrupt turnabout, Park Service pulls out of Stonewall Monument ceremony, saying it’s not responsible for flagpole

Veteran gay activist Ken Kidd, one of the main organizers of the event, said, “This is emblematic of what’s happening in the country right now to LGBTQ Americans citizens. We’re being told at every turn — including Trump’s first decision to appoint Pence — that actions will be taken to make us second-class citizens again. The very idea that taxpayer dollars were spent researching a flagpole on a national monument when there are so many other things at stake in the country is an outrage. Some employee of the Park Service or Interior read that Newsweek preview article on this because Donald Trump’s name was mentioned by me. They are so thin-skinned and so bigoted that they were going to spite us and not let that Rainbow Flag fly on federal property.”

Mindy Anderson, chief of communications for National Parks of New York Harbor, told Hamm that the Park Service only recently learned that “the flagpole is not on federal property."

"In good faith, because of working with the community, we raised the Rainbow Flag. So with our strong partnership with NYC Parks, we gifted the flag to them so they could continue to fly it,” Anderson added.

The Trump administration is so ardent in distancing itself from the event, the page for the monument hasn't been updated since September 7.

Additionally, the National Park Services Facebook page, which is updated on a daily basis, does not list today's event.

In any case, today's event will still go on. Kidd told Gay City News, “What we had planned with great people from the National Park Service was a lovely, small-town all-American celebration of our rightful place as citizens and of Stonewall’s rightful place in the struggle for equality in the USA. Our plans are to continue with that celebration.”

More about today's event via press release:

The event will be emceed by Gay USA television co-host Ann Northrop. Performers will include Telly Leung, who plays the title role in Disney’s “Aladdin on Broadway” and Cantor Steve Zeidenberg of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. Speakers will be Leslie Cagan, co-organizer of the 1987 March on Washington for LGBT Rights, Kiara St. James, Executive Director of New York Transgender Advocacy Group, and LGBT and AIDS activist Michael Petrelis, who spearheaded this initiative.

“It is a victory for our Community to have these symbolic colors flying majestically over our Stonewall, designated as a National Monument by President Obama, even as our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are under attack by the current regime in power,” said Petrelis.

October 11 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the historic 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian & Gay Rights--when the NAMES Project AIDS Quilt was unfurled on the National Mall. The date also marks the annual National Coming Out Day, inviting the LGBTQ community to live their lives openly.

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