Biden to sign bill designating Pulse nightclub, site of 2016 massacre, a national memorial
In the coming days, President Joe Biden will sign legislation that will designate Pulse nightclub — the site of one of the country's deadliest mass shootings in history — as a national memorial, according to a White House statement published Saturday.
Saturday marks five years since 49 people were killed and multiple others were wounded at the LGBTQ+ nightclub in Orlando, Florida while celebrating a "Latin Night." The FBI determined that the gunman — who was killed by police after the attack — had been motivated by homegrown violent terrorism.
"We must drive out hate and inequities that contribute to the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women — especially transgender women of color," the White House statement said. "We must create a world in which our LGBTQ+ young people are loved, accepted, and feel safe in living their truth."
Florida Senator Rick Scott, who was governor at the time of the attack, introduced the bill in the Senate this spring, after Florida Congressman Darren Soto introduced it in the House in January. On Wednesday, the legislation passed in the Senate by unanimous consent and with bipartisan support.
"Floridians will never forget," Scott wrote on Twitter Saturday. "We will always honor them and as a community we've vowed to stand against hate of any kind."
The owner of Pulse, Barbara Poma, said in a Saturday interview with CBSN's Lana Zak that she became emotional upon learning of the Senate's recent decision to pass the bill.
"It was a moment that we all cried on our team," Poma said. "This designation means our government recognizes what happened on June 12th and hasn't forgotten, and that this community matters — that they are seen. That's truly so impactful for all of us here."
Since the attack, Poma has fronted the onePULSE Foundation, which is working to open a museum, educational programs and scholarships in remembrance of the massacre five years ago.
Brandon Wolf, the first survivor of the attack to testify before Congress, thanked the Florida delegation "for recognizing our hallowed ground."
Florida Representative Darren Soto said that he was honored to see the bill pass and thanked the Senate for doing so. "Though the 49 angels we lost that night are missed every day, we must continue working to honor their spirits & keep their legacies alive," Soto wrote on Twitter Saturday.
The White House statement Saturday advocated to "address the public health epidemic of gun violence in all of its forms" by cracking down on background check requirements for gun buyers in the country, banning high-capacity magazines, establishing "red flag" legislation and eliminating the immunity of gun manufacturers from liability.
The statement also called for the Senate to pass the Equality Act, which would enshrine legal security for LGBTQ+ Americans, including protections to cover federally funded programs, employment, housing, loan applications, education and public accommodations.
"We must do more than remember victims of gun violence and all of the survivors, family members, and friends left behind," Biden wrote. "We must act."
This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that Senator Scott introduced Pulse nightclub legislation in the Senate and Congressman Soto introduced it in the House.
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