The riots following the June 28, 1969, police raid on New York City's Stonewall Inn did not start the discussion on gay rights, but they certainly became the catalyst for a national movement. When the Mafia-owned bar that offered a safe place for gay men and lesbians to drink and dance was shut down as part of a citywide crackdown on homosexual life, Greenwich Village erupted into several days of unrest. Violent police beat-downs and open mocking of the authorities by the protesters escalated the neighborhood protest into a full-scale rally for acceptance and equality. Prior to the Stonewall riots, the gay-rights movement had been mostly underground; only two years later, there were organized groups in every major city in America.
Stonewall's legacy lives on today. After the New York state senate voted in favor of same-sex marriage on Friday night, June 24, revelers from around the city congregated in front of the bar to celebrate.