US House passes bill to establish Orlando's Pulse Nightclub as a national memorial

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Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS

ORLANDO, Fla. — The U.S. House unanimously passed a resolution Friday that would establish the Pulse nightclub in Orlando as a national memorial site, four years after a mass shooting there killed 49 and wounded dozens more.

“What Pulse is and what Pulse symbolizes is relevant to all Americans,” said co-sponsor of the bill, U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Orlando. “We honor not only the victims, but what they stood for, what they represent, and what our country could be and should be.”

H.R. 3094 grants a federal designation honoring the 49 lives taken on June 12, 2016, as well as the survivors, first responders and the entire Central Florida community, said Rep. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, and another sponsor of the bill. There is currently no Senate companion.

During the debate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi voiced her support for the measure, saying that the grief that came from the loss has turned into purpose.

“Sometime after the terrible tragedy we stood on the steps of the Capitol holding their individual pictures,” Pelosi said. “At that time we said we will never forget. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to keep that promise.”

The shooting by the lone gunman was seen as the work of a terrorist who targeted the LGBT community. Pulse was a gay and lesbian nightclub.

In addition to the resolution approved during LGBT Pride month, the onePULSE foundation is building the National Pulse Memorial and Museum, which is planned to open in 2022.

“Today, I am grateful that the House has passed our legislation to make the Pulse site a national memorial. We will always honor the family, friends, and neighbors we lost that night,” Demings said in a statement. “Today, the U.S. House moved forward legislation that will help to ensure that the memories of the victims will always be a part of our national identity and that they will never be forgotten.”

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©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)