Community members, survivors, and first responders gathered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last night, June 12, for a vigil in remembrance of the third anniversary of the mass shooting that claimed 49 lives.
The site is currently a temporary memorial, with funds being raised by the onePULSE Foundation, the nonprofit run by club co-owner Barbara Poma, for a permanent site, construction for which is set to begin in 2021.
Now there is a chance Pulse could become a federal landmark, with Florida lawmakers introducing a bill in the days leading up to the anniversary that would designate the memorial as part of the National Park System. If that were to happen, it would become only the second national monument recognizing LGBTQ history, the first being the Stonewall Inn, so honored in 2016.
If the bill becomes law, which Soto told CNN he hopes happens next year, it would allow onePULSE to retain control of construction of the memorial.
U.S. Reps. Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy announced their plans in front of Pulse on Monday.
"This will give this hallowed ground the federal recognition it deserves, especially for those who lost everything," Soto said.
"This is an important step to preserve an LGBT historic landmark at a time when many of these sites are being destroyed. The memorial will serve as a reminder of the remarkable way our community came together to heal and overcome hate."
As a nationally recognized memorial, the memorial construction efforts would be eligible to receive both federal and private funding. According to Poma, the foundation has raised $14 million of its $45 million goal, most coming from the county.
"It’s important we remember the love that the 49 victims and their loved ones brought into this world, which will always be stronger than the hate that stole their lives on that day. By designating the site as a National Memorial, we will honor their memories, be inspired by their legacies, and recognize the positive contributions the LGBTQ community offers to the world," said Murphy in a statement.
"In these times when acts of hate and violence are on the rise, we must remember our past and work to do better now and in the future,” said Poma.