President Joe Biden on Friday held an
LGBT Pride ceremony at the White House.
The ceremony included the president
signing a bill that designates the Pulse nightclub in Orlando as a
Forty-nine people died and dozens more
were injured when a lone gunman opened fire in the gay nightclub on
June 12, 2016.
The nightclub never reopened and was
turned into an interim memorial.
At the time, the massacre was the
deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. It also renewed calls
for stricter gun control laws.
In signing HR 49, Biden was surrounded
by survivors of the shooting.
“We'll never fully recover, but we
remember,” Biden said.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, applauded Biden's move.
“This is an important first step in
honoring the unrealized lives of the victims,” HRC President
Alphonso David said in a statement. “We are committed to a
continued fight for adequate protections of LGBTQ people and urge
Congress to pass common sense gun violence prevention measures to
prevent future tragedies.”
Biden also announced the appointment of
Jessica Stern as the State Department's U.S. special envoy on LGBT
rights, a position that was left vacant by the Trump administration.
Stern is the executive director of OutRight Action International,
which advocates for LGBT rights around the world.
In his remarks, Biden repeated his call
for passage of the Equality Act, an LGBT protections bill before the
Senate. Biden has called passage a priority for his administration.
"When a same-sex couple can be
married in the morning but denied a lease in the afternoon for being
gay, something's still wrong," Biden said. "In over half of
our states, LBGTQ+ Americans still lack explicit state-level civil
rights protections to shield them from discrimination. As I said as a
presidential candidate and in my first joint address to Congress,
it's time for the United States Senate to pass the Equality Act and
put the legislation on my desk. On my desk."
Transportation Secretary Pete
Buttigieg, the nation's first openly gay member of a president's
cabinet, gave remarks before the president was introduced by Ashton
Mota, a 16-year-old transgender rights advocate.