President Joe Biden commemorated Pride Month at the White House Friday and designated the location of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting a national memorial.
Biden signed a bill honoring the 49 people killed in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida on Nov.
The bill passed the Senate by vote earlier this month and the House of Representatives passed its own version in May.
The president also announced the appointment of Jessica Stern, leader of New York’s human rights group OutRight Action International, as special envoy to the State Department. Stern will help guide U.S. diplomatic efforts to advance the human rights of LGBTQI + people around the world.
Biden signed the bill along with survivors of the shooting and the victim’s family members, as well as members of the Florida Congressional Delegation and the Congressional Equality Caucus.
“The site of the deadliest attack on the LBGTQ + community in American history is now a national memorial,” said Biden.
The President, along with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, made remarks who broke barriers by becoming the first openly gay man to serve in the Cabinet. The president was introduced by 16-year-old transgender advocate Ashton Mota. In attendance were LGBTQ + advocates, elected state and local officials, and members of Congress.
“The fact that we are here shows how much change is possible in America,” said Buttigieg on the podium.
Biden is also urged that the Senate pass the Equality Act, a landmark bill on LGBTQ + rights that would create legal protection for LGBTQ + Americans. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives on February 25, but faces an tougher battle in the evenly divided Senate.
He also condemned the recent proliferation of anti-LGBTQ + laws passed in several states. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, 23 states reviewed more than 50 bills targeting transgender youth during the 2021 legislature.
“More than a dozen of them have already passed … let’s get that straight, this is nothing more than bullying disguised as legislation,” Biden said.
Biden also outlined the steps his government has taken to advocate for equality for LGBTQ + Americans. This includes, among other things, the recognition of Pride Month in a proclamation from 1.
“Representation is important, recognition is important. Another thing that matters is results, ”Biden said at the White House. “I am proud to lead the most professional LGBTQ equality administration in US history.”