First LGBTQ Veterans Memorial receives new web address

CATHEDRAL CITY — America’s first LGBTQ Veterans Memorial in Cathedral City has a new web address and an improved web page, Tom Swann Hernandez, founder and commander of AMVETS Post 66 announced.

This memorial became the California LGBTQ Veterans Memorial in 2018 when then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation. California is the first and only state to have a memorial honoring the state’s brave LGBTQ war-dead.

The web site includes special letters from six American Presidents and four California Governors. Also, the protest flyer created by so-called late Rev. Fred Phelps. Cathedral City Police blocked the Phelps family in its attempt to toss urine on the memorial.

Swann Hernandez led the effort to dedicate this historic memorial as the Founder and Commander of American Veterans (AMVETS) Post 66 in 2001. This was when LGBTQ in the military were required to serve in silence. This was nine years before the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The dedication was a national news story.

Marine Corps Veteran Bill Kibler was with Swann Hernandez when they witnessed President Obama sign legislation to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

In 2004 California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation to make the monument a state memorial. Swann Hernandez persevered for 14 years before finally the memorial became a state memorial. California has only two other state veteran memorials and they are located at the state capitol in Sacramento.

The memorial has a bronze plaque with the seal of the state of California. The California Secretary of State had to approve the seal being displayed on our memorial. The California LGBTQ Veterans Memorial was dedicated on April 27, 2019. This was also a national news story. There are many state web pages that feature our memorial.

The historic memorial is the third public monument in America to honor Transgender people. The memorial is located at Desert Memorial Park, a public cemetery operated by the Palm Springs Cemetery District. The memorial is seen by more tourists at this cemetery than the graves of late Sonny Bono and Frank Sinatra.

Sadly, President Donald Trump is the only President to refuse to send a special letter about our memorial. President Joe Biden sent us a full-page congratulatory letter that he personally signed and mailed to us last October. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has also sent a special letter.

Our Post sells challenge coins of the memorial. We are so very grateful for Bill Kibler’s hard work. The web link is here, 



Image Sources

  • LGBT Veterans Memorial: Discover Cathedral City