President Joe Biden signed a bill Friday afternoon designating Pulse nightclub as a national memorial.
The president announced on the five-year mark since the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub that he would sign the bill. The signing took place at 1:30 p.m.
“Just over five years ago Pulse nightclub, a place of acceptance and joy, became a place of unspeakable pain and lose and we’ll never fully recover, but we’ll remember,” Biden said.
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Survivors and lawmakers joined him for the signing.
The deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community in U.S. history left 49 people dead and 53 people wounded as “Latin Night” was being celebrated at the club. Biden said in a statement earlier this month that he has “stayed in touch with families of the victims and with the survivors who have turned their pain into purpose” and described the club as “hallowed ground.”
The president emphasized that the country must do more to reduce gun violence, such as banning assault weapons and closing loopholes in regulations that enable gun buyers to bypass background checks. Biden said the nation must acknowledge that gun violence has hurt members of the LGBTQ community.
“We must drive out hate and inequities that contribute to the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women — especially transgender women of color,” Biden said.
The president also praised lawmakers for passing the bill earlier this month.
Brandon Wolf was in Washington, D.C. for the signing. He is a Pulse survivor and lost his best friends in the shooting.
Wolf said this national designation is a way to honor the victims and to take action.
“Pulse is hallowed ground. It’s the last place that I saw my best friends. It’s the place that I never got to say goodbye to them and the idea that we will be able to welcome the world into that sacred place and offer them a space to reflect, to mourn and also to recommit to taking action means a lot to me,” Wolf said.
The onePULSE Foundation released a statement after the signing and called it a “major milestone.” The non-profit said in part, “It is so meaningful to everyone here, especially the families of the 49, survivors, first responders, and all the lives affected, that our federal government recognizes the depth of the tragedy of Pulse. It’s also a clear and lasting message to the LGBTQ+ community that what happened at Pulse matters and will never be forgotten for future generations, and that we will always outlove hate.”
State Rep. Anna Eskamani said the federal acknowledgement recognizes the impact of Pulse.
“Not just the pain from the loss and the tragedy itself, but also the power that we find in pain and honoring and amplifying the importance of inclusivity, the importance of preventing gun violence, and coming together to honor those who are no longer with us through action,” Eskamani said.