Five years after a deadly attack against the LGBTQ+ community, President Joe Biden announced he will sign a bill designating the Pulse nightclub in Orlando as a national memorial.
Currently, an interim memorial exists at Pulse, where a shooting on the night of June 12, 2016, left 49 people dead and 53 injured. A task force made up of volunteers from victims’ family members, survivors and community leaders has been working to raise funds to maintain a permanent memorial.
Biden’s promise gave hope to some people who support the cause.
“It’s a ray of hope on a day that is very, very painful for me and for others,” survivor Brandon Wolf told CNN following the announcement. “Forty-nine people lost their lives at Pulse. We were thrust into the spotlight. Our pain was on every TV screen across the world. And it feels really good in a moment like this to be able to talk about having an ally in the White House.”
In his statement, Biden said that signing a bill to make the Pulse nightclub a national memorial was “enshrining in law what has been true since that terrible day five years ago: Pulse Nightclub is hallowed ground.”
“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,” Biden said in a statement about the memorial.
This year on June 12, family, friends and community members gathered at the Pulse Nightclub to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the shooting. During the ceremony, a rainbow appeared over the nightclub as people sang in remembrance of those who lost their lives. To those left behind to honor their memory and to fight for LGBTQ rights, the rainbow was a welcome sign.
Orlando Police captured the moment and posted it on Twitter:
THE 49: Minutes after @NAlvarezWFTV said a rainbow would be a sign the 49 were watching this evening’s tribute, a 🌈 appeared…🕊#rememberthe49 #OrlandoUnited #ThisisOrlando #Pulse5YearsLater pic.twitter.com/RZrZeVAOSm
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2021
That day, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, walked in the Pride parade in Washington.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) June 12, 2021
“We still have so much to do,” Harris said when she spoke to the crowd at the Capitol Pride Walk and Rally.