President Joe Biden has issued a statement marking the fifth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting, including calls for additional regulation of guns and promotion of LGBTQ+ equality.
Members of his administration also met Friday with gun control and LGBTQ+ rights activists.
Here is the statement in full.
“Five years ago today in Orlando in the middle of Pride Month, our nation suffered the deadliest attack affecting the LGBTQ+ community in American history, and at the time, the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman.
“Within minutes, the Pulse nightclub that had long been a place of acceptance and joy turned into a place of unspeakable pain and loss. Forty-nine people were there celebrating Latin night were murdered, even more injured, and countless others scarred forever — the victims were family members, partners and friends, veterans and students, young, Black, Asian and Latino — our fellow Americans.
“A few days later, I traveled with President Obama to pay respects to them and their families, to thank the brave first responders and the community who found strength and compassion in each other, and to pledge that what happened would not be forgotten.
“Over the years, I have stayed in touch with families of the victims and with the survivors who have turned their pain into purpose, and who remind us that we must do more than remember victims of gun violence and all of the survivors, family members, and friends left behind; we must act.
“In the coming days, I will sign a bill designating Pulse nightclub as a national memorial, enshrining in law what has been true since that terrible day five years ago: Pulse nightclub is hallowed ground.
“But there is more we must do to address the public health epidemic of gun violence in all of its forms — mass shootings and daily acts of gun violence that don’t make national headlines.
“It is long past time we close the loopholes that allow gun buyers to bypass background checks in this country, and the Senate should start by passing the three House-passed bills which would do exactly that. It is long past time we ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, establish extreme risk protection orders, also known as ‘red flag’ laws, and eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.
“We must also acknowledge gun violence’s particular impact on LGBTQ+ communities across our nation. We must drive out hate and inequities that contribute to the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women — especially transgender women of color. We must create a world in which our LGBTQ+ young people are loved, accepted, and feel safe in living their truth. And the Senate must swiftly pass the Equality Act, legislation that will ensure LGBTQ+ Americans finally have equal protection under law.
“In the memory of all of those lost at the Pulse nightclub five years ago, let us continue the work to be a nation at our best — one that recognizes and protects the dignity and safety of every American.”
Friday’s meeting was a virtual roundtable hosted by Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice and White House Public Engagement Director and Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond, featuring LGBTQ+ leaders and gun violence survivors.
“During the meeting, three courageous LGBTQ+ gun violence survivors discussed the impact that gun violence has had on their lives,” notes a summary of the meeting provided by the White House. “Participants shared their perspectives on the ongoing public health crisis of gun violence in America and the burden that this crisis has on LGBTQ+ communities across our Nation. They discussed the epidemic levels of violence faced by transgender people, especially transgender women of color, and the impact of firearms in the crisis of anti-transgender homicides. Participants also discussed the intersection of gun safety and the movement to prevent and end suicide among LGBTQ+ youth.”
Rice and Richmond thanked the participants for their “courageous leadership in addressing acts of anti-LGBTQ+ violence, and for their persistent advocacy to tackle the gun violence epidemic,” the summary states. They reiterated Biden’s commitment to LGBTQ+ equality; he is urging the U.S. Senate to pass the Equality Act, a comprehensive LGBTQ+ civil rights bill that has already been approved by the House. They further noted his call for the Senate to pass gun-regulation bills that have likewise already cleared the House.
Participants in the meeting included Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf, who is media relations manager for Equality Florida; Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida; Jason Lindsay, founder and executive director of the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence; Elle Moxley, founder and executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute; Destini Philpot, leader of Students Demand Action Baltimore and cofounder of Good Kids Mad City Baltimore; Casey Pick, senior fellow for advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project; Andrea Pino-Silva, communications director at the Community Justice Action Fund; Bamby Salcedo, president and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition; Beverly Tillery, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project; and Christopher Zoeller, state organizing director at March for Our Lives Florida.