Today in History: The Stonewall Riots

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June 28, 2012
The Stonewall Inn

Forty-three years ago today, in the early morning of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided a gay bar on Christopher Street called the Stonewall Inn. Cop raids on gay bars were routine in those days, but this time, patrons fought back. Violent clashes spread out across Greenwich Village over the following days. By the time order was restored, one thing was clear: The LGBT community would no longer tolerate harassment and intimidation.

In June 1970, gay rights activists marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with a march on Central Park—the first LGBT Pride parade. Today there are hundreds of Pride celebrations around the world. But the riots had another lasting impact. They galvanized a growing movement and defined it with a sense of purpose. In that first year, several LGBT rights organizations and publications were born.

Pride is a time for the LGBT community to come together and look back at Stonewall and see how far we’ve come since 1969. In the last year alone, we’ve made tremendous progress. Delaware and Rhode Island allow civil unions for same-sex couples. New York has marriage equality. President Obama has announced his support for the right of same-sex couples to marry. Lambda Legal and client Vandy Beth Glenn scored a historic victory for transgender rights in the workplace. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is gone. Several legal challenges, including Lambda Legal's Golinski case, are helping to bring down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

We’ve come a long way in the past year and in the 43 years since Stonewall. In the next year—and in the next 43—the LGBT community will make more progress and claim more victories. And each June, we will pause to remember, and we will celebrate Pride.

Photo by Gryffindor under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.