California Governor Jerry Brown, a
Democrat, on Monday signed a bill that designates a memorial to honor
Under the new law, the LGBTQ Veterans
Memorial at the Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City is the now the
state's official memorial honoring LGBTQ veterans, making California
the first state in the United States to honor LGBTQ veterans in such
The memorial, established in 2001,
consists of a granite obelisk with the logo of the Gay, Lesbian and
Bisexual Veterans of America, which is now known as the American
Veterans for Equal Rights.
A local chapter of AMVETS, a veterans
service organization, was instrumental in establishing the memorial
and getting state recognition.
“Our perseverance has paid off,”
said AMVETS Post 66 founder and current commander Tom Swann
Hernandez. “California is leading the nation by honoring the
heroes, many of whom have had to die in silence because they were
forced to conceal their sexual orientation.”
Cathedral City Mayor Stan Henry
applauded the state's move.
“History was made today in Sacramento
that shines a beacon of freedom and liberty all the way to Cathedral
City,” Henry said. “This historic memorial, the first of its
kind in the entire United States, will be a place for family, friends
and residents to gather in paying tribute to and find solace in their
Four presidents – Gerald Ford, Bill
Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama – have formally recognized
The legislation, which received
bipartisan support, was sponsored by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia.
“The sanctioning of this first of its
kind, veteran memorial demonstrates our immense gratitude for the
valiant contributions of LGBTQ veterans, true American patriots, who
placed their lives on the line to defend the liberties we enjoy
daily. Their sacrifices, in spite of obstacles and facing
discrimination, more than merit the honor of a dedicated memorial
site and sacred space for their loved ones to mourn the loss of these
heroes,” Garcia said in a press release.
A dedication ceremony is being planned