CATHEDRAL CITY — America’s first LGBT Veterans Memorial, located at the outdoor veteran’s chapel at Desert Memorial Park and lauded by four U.S. Presidents and three California governors, could soon become the California LGBT Veterans Memorial.
Democratic state Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, who represents the 56th Assembly District, has introduced AB 2439, which calls for designating the local monument as the state’s official LGBT Veterans Memorial.
Garcia has received support from the city of Cathedral City, Alexander Hamilton Post 448, AMVETS Post 66, Veterans for Peace and the Palm Springs Cemetery Board of Trustees.
“This is an important item, as the memorial is in Cathedral City and has been here for about 20 years without and formal recognition,” Mayor Stan Henry told Uken Report. “The Council feels we need to honor all of our veterans and this does that.”
The City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of AB 2439 in March.
Henry and Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pettis will travel to Sacramento on April 26 to meet with Garcia and lobby legislators to pass the proposed legislation.
On May 27, 2001 AMVETS Post 66 dedicated America’s first LGBT Veteran’s Memorial at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City.
In a letter of support to Garcia, Kathleen Jurasky, district manager of the Palm Springs Cemetery District, wrote, “As you surely know, it was a different time in 2001, when our country’s LGBTQ servicemen and woman had to serve their country in silence. It was also very forward-thinking at the time for a public agency to take the bold move to publicly recognize (by way of a permanent memorial monument) the contributions and sacrifices made by the many LGBTQ veterans who served side-by-side with their fellow Americans to Promote and defend the democratic values all Americans hold so dearly.”
Read the full letter here.
The memorial is an obelisk alongside a bronze plaque with minimal maintenance costs. Desert Memorial Park cuts the grass; AMVETS Post 66 polishes the granite and cleans the memorial when it gets vandalized. Together, Desert Memorial Park and AMVETS Post 66 will continue to maintain the memorial. A second bronze plaque will be installed indicating that the memorial is the State of California LGBT Veteran’s Memorial.
Presidents Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama have all sent special letters praising this memorial, as have three California Governors (Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown twice).
The only potential opposition to this legislation, according to Garcia’s office, is that some LGBT activists may prefer to build a larger LGBT Veteran’s Memorial at the state capitol.
“However, this memorial is large in what it has accomplished and what it had to overcome in order to be dedicated in 2001,” Garcia said. “This memorial is historic as it is the nation’s first LGBT Veteran’s Memorial and Palm Springs is a prominent LGBT tourist destination.”
California must honor all the brave men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces. This memorial is a testament to honor the contributions the LGBT community has made to the security of the United States, Garcia said.
The 56th Assembly District comprises a number of cities and unincorporated communities in eastern Riverside County and Imperial County, including Blythe, Brawley, Bermuda Dunes, Calexico, Calipatria, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, El Centro, Holtville, Imperial, Indio, Mecca, Oasis, North Shore, Salton Sea, Thermal, Thousand Palms, and Westmorland.