During Pride month in 2019 (and as part of the She Built NYC program) Marsha P. Johnson was honored with a statue in Christopher Park, just across from the iconic Stonewall Inn. Now, Governor Cuomo has announced that the East River State Park will renamed after her.
Located in Brooklyn, East River State Park is the first New York State park to be named after someone in the LGBTQ community. In his announcement, Governor Cuomo stated:
“New York State is the progressive capital of the nation, and while we are winning the legal battle for justice for the LGBTQ community, in many ways we are losing the broader war for equality. Even in New York, attacks against African Americans, Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans and LGBTQ Americans went up by double digits. These attacks are motivated by fear and intolerance against those who are ‘different,’ and they are blind to the commonality of humanity. We are fighting back, and we will continue achieving progress and showing the rest of the nation the way forward. We will do it again this year by passing gestational surrogacy to complete marriage and family equality. And we will name the first State park after an LGBTQ person and we will name it after Marsha P. Johnson – an icon of the community.”
Marsha P. Johnson was a civil rights activist for the LGBTQ community, and a black transgender woman who moved to Greenwich Village after high school and became a leading figure during the Stonewall Uprising. She co-founded STAR with Sylvia Rivera (who is also part of the statue memorial across from Stonewall Inn), and was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front.
The renaming of the park is only one step in the long round ahead toward protecting and advancing LGBTQ rights in NYS, as the Governor’s Office mentions. The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act was signed into law last year by Cuomo as well, which makes it illegal for any institution or landlord to discriminate against gender identity. According to the rest of the announcement, Cuomo is also “proposing legislation to legalize gestational surrogacy in New York State. The legislation will establish criteria for surrogacy contracts that provide the strongest protections in the nation for parents and surrogates, ensuring all parties provide informed consent, and it will create a Surrogates’ Bill of Rights, which would ensure the unfettered right of surrogates to make their own healthcare decisions and that surrogates have access to comprehensive health insurance and independent legal counsel of their choosing, all paid for by the intended parents.”
Also published on Medium.