Evangelist Franklin Graham has slammed Obama of "flaunting sin" after it was announced the U.S. president will soon declare the first-ever national monument recognizing the "struggle for gay rights."
According to the Washington Post, President Obama is preparing to name the area surrounding New York's iconic Stonewall Inn part of the National Park Service, a place that many believe is where the gay rights movement in America began with an uprising in 1969.
The designation, which would give it protections as a national monument, could come as soon as next month, as June commemorates gay pride.
Graham, 64, took to Facebook on Friday to express his outrage over the move: "A monument to sin? That's unbelievable. War heroes deserve a monument, our nation's founding fathers deserve a monument, people who have helped to make America strong deserve a monument - but a monument to sin?"
The Post reports that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., will hold a public hearing on May 9 in New York City in order to get feedback on the proposal.
"We must ensure that we never forget the legacy of Stonewall, the history of discrimination against the LGBT community, or the impassioned individuals who have fought to overcome it," Nadler, who has co-authored legislation that would make it a national park, said in a statement. "The LGBT civil rights movement launched at Stonewall is woven into American history, and it is time our National Park system reflected that reality."
Continuing his Facebook post, Graham wrote, "It's no surprise that the three officials who represent the area and support the monument are all openly gay. I can't believe how far our country has digressed. I hope that the president will reconsider. Flaunting sin is a dangerous move. God's Word tells us, 'Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people' (Proverbs 14:34)."
The historic protests outside Stonewall Inn began on June 28, 1969 and lasted six days in response to a police raid on the tavern, which was frequented primarily by gay men.
The president described Stonewall as a critical event in the fight for LGBT rights during his second inaugural speech, reflecting the idea "that all of us are created equal," according to the Post.
The bar has already been given landmark status, and Time Magazine notes that LGBT rights activists regularly return to Stonewall Inn and the surrounding area to celebrate new milestones in the gay rights movement, such as the Supreme Court's effective legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015.
"Stonewall deserves to be remembered," Brian Sullivan, a former bartender at the tavern, told The New York Times. "When I started coming here, gay people were disowned by their families, so this is the place where we formed a new gay family of our own."
"This is the mecca; it's where it all started," he added.