Biden to commemorate Pride Month, name Pulse Nightclub a national memorial


People hold candles as they attend a one year anniversary memorial service for victims of the mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub being held at Lake Eola Park on June 12, 2017 in Orlando, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Friday will commemorate Pride Month at the White House and designate the site of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting as a national memorial, according to an administration official.

Biden will sign legislation honoring the 49 people killed in a mass shooting at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016, after a gunman stormed the venue with an AR-15-style assault rifle and pistol.

The legislation passed the Senate by voice earlier this month and the House passed its own version in May.

The president will also announce his appointment of Jessica Stern, head of the New York human rights group OutRight Action International, as a special envoy at the State Department. Stern will help lead U.S. diplomatic efforts to advance the human rights of LGBTQI+ people around the world.

Biden will sign the legislation at 1:30 p.m. ET alongside survivors of the shooting and victim’s family members as well as members of the Florida congressional delegation and Congressional Equality Caucus.

The president will deliver remarks at 2 p.m. alongside Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who broke barriers by becoming the first openly gay man to serve in the Cabinet. The president will be introduced by 16-year-old transgender advocate Ashton Mota. LGBTQ+ advocates, state and local elected officials and members of Congress will be present.

Biden is also expected to call for the Senate to pass the Equality Act, a landmark LGBTQ+ rights bill that would establish legal protections for LGBTQ+ Americans. The bill was passed by the House on Feb. 25 but faces a tougher battle in the evenly divided Senate.

He is also expected to denounce the recent proliferation of anti-LGBTQ+ bills passed in multiple states. Twenty-three states have considered more than 50 bills that target transgender youth during the 2021 legislative session, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Biden will also outline the steps his administration has taken to champion equality for LGBTQ+ Americans. This includes recognizing Pride Month in a June 1 proclamation, overturning a ban on transgender servicemembers serving in the military, and nominating LGBTQ+ officials to U.S. government positions, among others.

“Pride is both a jubilant communal celebration of visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity,” Biden said in the June 1 proclamation. “This Pride Month, we recognize the valuable contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals across America, and we reaffirm our commitment to standing in solidarity with LGBTQ+ Americans in their ongoing struggle against discrimination and injustice.”

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