Three days before the fifth anniversary of the attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation designating the site of the gay club a national memorial.
The House passed its version of the bill on May 12. The measure now goes to President Joe Biden, who has supported a number of pro-LGBTQ proposals and is expected to sign it into law, though it’s unclear when.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., introduced the Senate bill. Scott was governor at the time of the massacre, which saw 49 clubgoers killed and dozens more wounded before the shooter, Omar Mateen, was killed in a shootout with law enforcement after a three-hour siege.
While introducing the measure Wednesday, Scott said speaking to parents who lost children and attending funerals and wakes for the young victims following the June 12, 2016, attack “was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“[It was] an evil act of terrorism designed to divide us as a nation and strike fear in our hearts and minds,” Scott later said in a statement. “But instead, we came together, and supported each other through heartbreak and darkness, to preserve and rebuild.”
While a similar bill passed the House in 2020, it languished in the Senate. Scott’s measure passed by unanimous consent, enjoying bipartisan backing from fellow Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, and California Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat.
In a statement, Rubio said he was “inspired by Orlando’s continued resiliency, pride, and strength.”
On Twitter, Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the attack, thanked the Florida delegation “for recognizing our hallowed ground.”
A message from the Pulse nightclub Facebook page also expressed gratitude for the bill’s passage.
“The unanimous consent is such welcome news as we are set to mark the five-year remembrance of the Pulse tragedy,” the statement said. “This recognition from both the House and Senate means so much to the LGBTQ+ community. #WeWillNotLetHateWin”
The vote came one week after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new state budget that cut funding for Orlando’s LGBTQ Community Center and an organization that houses homeless LGBTQ youth.
Wolf, now media relations manager for Equality Florida, said the cuts meant DeSantis “has declared war” on the state’s gay community.