(Reuters) – A naturalization ceremony was held for 12 new citizens at the historic Stonewall Monument in New York on Friday, as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) commemorated Pride Month.
The monument remembers the Stonewall riots of June 1969, seen as the protests that birthed the international gay rights movement.
“We’re sitting here in such a monumental place that meant so much to the history of our country and what our country is about,” said Ur Jaddou, director of USCIS, at the ceremony in Greenwich Village.
“It’s about equality. It’s about freedom. It’s about liberty,” she continued.
“You represent a wide array of customs, backgrounds and cultures. And by celebrating that diversity, we are upholding America’s promise as a nation of welcome and possibility for all,” she told the new citizens.
“I like the fact it’s in this neighborhood,” said Maria Cuartero Toledo, a new U.S. citizen, originally from Spain. “I’m straight myself, but I do have many gay friends. And also last year, I was working as a psychiatrist for transgender youth. So, for me, it has a very special meaning,” she said.
(Reporting by Aleksandra Michalska; Writing by Mark Porter; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)