Flanked by LGBTQ+ politicians, activists, and the first lady, President Joe Biden signed legislation today designating Orlando's Pulse nightclub — the site of a 2016 mass shooting where the majority of victims were young, queer, and Latinx — as a National Memorial.
"A place of acceptance and joy became a place of unspeakable pain and loss," Biden said, "We'll never fully recover but we'll remember."
Behind Biden and the attendees were two video screens displaying images of the 49 people murdered at Pulse.
After discussing White House efforts in assisting victims of an apartment tower collapse in the Miami area, Biden returned to another Florida tragedy, the Pulse massacre. The president thanked members of Congress for pushing for the designation of Pulse as a National Memorial "to make sure this isn't forgotten." Sen. Tammy Baldwin and out House members like Sharice Davids, Mondaire Jones, and David Cicilline stood at the president's side.
After signing the legislation designating the memorial, Biden stated, "May no other president ever have to sign [for] a monument like this." After a round of applause, the president had an emotional addendum:
"One last thing as I said to the survivors and those who lost folks a little earlier, you know what the Congress has done means a great deal and it's important, but it's really hard, it brings back everything as if it happened yesterday. Every time there's a memorial service for our son Beau, you're flattered, you feel good about it, you think it's wonderful, the recognition, but it's tough, it's as if it happened yesterday, happened the day before, happened the moment you signed it.
"So I want to thank the folks that are here and the survivors that are here on Zoom with us, I want to thank them for their courage. I really mean it. But I promise you, none of the members of Congress here, neither I, neither Jill, are going to let us until we deal with equity across the board."
The legislation was heralded by the onePULSE Foundation, the nonprofit established in the wake of the 2016 tragedy.
"Toda is a major milestone in fulfilling the mission of the National Pulse Memorial & Museum," the foundation said in a statement. "We are eternally grateful to President Joe Biden and his administration for signing the bill designating Pulse nightclub as a National Memorial.
"When he came to Orlando immediately following the tragedy in 2016 with then-President Barack Obama to meet with those who were affected, his presence, words of support and promise to stand with us will always be remembered in our hearts.
"We want to recognize Representatives Darren Soto, Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy for sponsoring and introducing the bill and Senators Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and Alex Padilla for introducing the companion bill. We are thankful that members of the U.S. House and Senate passed the bills unanimously.
"It is is so meaningful to everone 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."
Watch video of the signing ceremony below.