WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden commemorated Pride Month at the White House on Friday and designated the site of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting as a national memorial.
Biden was vice president when a 29-year-old man killed 49 people and wounded 53 more in the nightclub mass shooting in Florida back in June 2016, a month that is celebrated annually as LGBTQ Pride Month in the United States.
“A place of acceptance and joy became a place of unspeakable pain and loss. We’ll never fully recover, but we’ll remember,” Biden said before signing the bill. “May no president ever have to sign another monument like this.”
At a separate event at the White House, Biden commemorated Pride month and appointed advocate Jessica Stern as a special envoy to advance the human rights of LGBTQ people around the world.
“Pride Month represents so much,” Biden said. “It stands for courage. The courage of all those in previous generations and today who proudly live their truth. Stands for justice. Both the steps we’ve taken and the steps we need to take. And above all, Pride Month stands for love.”
Biden was introduced by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who became the first openly gay man to serve in the Cabinet. Also in attendence was 16-year-old transgender advocate Ashton Mota. LGBTQ+ advocates, state and local elected officials and members of Congress were also present.
The president also called for the Senate to pass the Equality Act, a LGBTQ+ rights bill that would establish legal protections for LGBTQ+ Americans. The bill has faced a tough battle in the evenly divided Senate after passing in the House back in February.
Biden also denounced the anti-LGBTQ+ bills passed in multiple states. 23 states have 50 bills that target transgender youth, according to The National Center For Transgender Equality.
“More than a dozen of them have already passed. Let’s be clear, this is nothing more than bullying disguised as legislation,” Biden said.
Biden also outlined the work his administration has done to champion equality for LGBTQ+ Americans, including recognizing Pride Month in a June 1 proclamation and overturning a ban on transgenders serving in the military.
“Representation matters, recognition matters. Something else that matters is results,” he said. “I’m proud to lead the most pro LGBTQ equality administration in U.S. history.”