Biden appoints LGBTQ liaison, signs bill for Pulse national memorial

The site of the Pulse massacre in 2016 is now a National Memorial. (Photo from One Pulse Foundation)

On Friday, President Joe Biden appointed a new liaison for LGBTQ issues and signed a bill that makes the Pulse nightclub in Orlando a national memorial.

USA Today reported that Biden signed the bill at a White House ceremony with survivors of the 2016 attack present. Congressional Equality Caucus members, including Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc. and Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., were also present as were LGBTQ activists.

“A place of acceptance and joy became a place of unspeakable pain and loss. We’ll never fully recover, but we’ll remember,” Biden said.

The Pulse nightclub law is part of an effort to build a permanent memorial at the site in honor of the 49 people gunned down five years ago by a man armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle, according to the newspaper. Plans call for a reflecting pool, an open-air museum and an education center with gardens and a public plaza. Another 53 were wounded. It remains the deadliest attack on an LGBTQ bar in the U.S. and was the deadliest mass shooting until the shooting at a Las Vegas music festival the next year.

Biden also announced the appointment of Jessica Stern to be the U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons at the U.S. Department of State.

A White House statement stated that the envoy will lead implementation of the Presidential Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Around the World. 

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, is based in New York and specializes in gender, sexuality and human rights globally.