Senate passes legislation to make Pulse nightclub a national memorial

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate passed legislation designating Pulse nightclub, the scene of a deadly mass shooting five years ago, a national memorial Wednesday.

The bill, S. 1605, passed by voice vote with no dissent three days before the anniversary of an attack on the Orlando, Florida night spot popular among gay club goers.

The House passed its own version of the bill, H.R. 49, on May 12. The legislation is named in honor of the 49 people killed when gunman Omar Mateen attacked the club armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle.

President Joe Biden is expected to sign H.R. 49 into law. The president has shown support for anti-discrimination legislation targeting Americans who identify as LGBTQ.

But the bill also passed during a turbulent time for LGBTQ rights in Florida. Days before the Senate’s unanimous vote, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a ban on transgender athletes participating in women’s sports at the high school and college levels.  

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who was governor of Florida when the attack happened, spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday. He also tweeted, “Five years ago, we lost 49 innocent lives in a terror attack against our state, nation, & Hispanic & LGBTQ communities at the Pulse Nightclub. We will never forget them. Today, @marcorubio & I honored their memory & passed our bill establishing the ‘National Pulse Memorial.’”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also recognized the anniversary of the shooting on the Senate floor and released a statement.

“Today, we still stand strong, together, to remember the 49 young lives lost that tragic day and honor their memory with passage of our resolution and our bill to establish the ‘National Pulse Memorial,’” he wrote. “It is my hope that this memorial will forever serve as a tribute to the victims and a reminder for us all to always stand for love and kindness over hate and evil in this world.”

A message was posted to Pulse nightclub’s Facebook page Wednesday thanking Scott, Rubio, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif. and the rest of the Senate for passing the bill.

“The unanimous consent is such welcome news as we are set to mark the five-year remembrance of the Pulse tragedy. This recognition from both the House and Senate means so much to the LGBTQ+ community. #WeWillNotLetHateWin,” the post stated.

Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the attack, also tweeted his thanks after the bill passed.

“Thank you, Florida delegation, for recognizing our hallowed ground,” he wrote.

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