WASHINGTON — The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, became a national monument on Friday.
President Joe Biden on Friday signed a law designating the site as a monument of the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community in U.S. history that left 49 people dead and 53 people wounded as “Latin Night” was being celebrated at the club. He first announced his plan on the fifth anniversary of the shooting, June 12.
Biden on Friday also appointed Jessica Stern to be the U.S. Special Envoy to advance the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons at the Department of State. Stern is the executive director of OutRight Action International and specializes in gender, sexuality and human rights globally.
"The Special Envoy will play a vital role in leading implementation of the Presidential Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Around the World," the White House said in a statement. "At a time when the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons are increasingly threatened in all regions of the world, the Special Envoy will bring together like-minded governments, civil society organizations, corporations and international organizations to uphold dignity and equality for all."
When first announcing his plan to create the national monument at the club, President Biden emphasized that the country must do more to reduce gun violence, such as banning assault weapons and closing loopholes in regulations that enable gun buyers to bypass background checks. Biden said the nation must acknowledge that gun violence has hurt members of the LGBTQ community.
Since taking office, Biden has taken steps to accelerate toward full equality. On June 1, he issued a proclamation recognizing June 2021 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month.
"Pride is a time to recall the trials the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community has endured and to rejoice in the triumphs of trailblazing individuals who have bravely fought -- and continue to fight -- for full equality," the proclamation reads.
"While I am proud of the progress my Administration has made in advancing protections for the LGBTQ+ community, I will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law," the proclamation added. "This Pride Month, we affirm our obligation to uphold the dignity of all people, and dedicate ourselves to protecting the most vulnerable among us."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.