President Obama will likely discuss
hate crimes legislation in his speech to gay rights advocates
Saturday in Washington.
Thursday's House passage of a bill that
that adds disability, gender identity and sexual orientation to the
list of federal hate crimes protections is likely to be an important
element of the president's speech to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC),
the nation's largest gay rights advocate, an administration official
White House Press Secretary Robert
Gibbs told reporters Friday that the hate crimes bill would likely be
an important component of the president's speech, adding that he will
also speak on a variety of issues.
“Hate crime protections are long
overdue, in the president's opinion,” Gibbs said. “[He] believes
that their passage represents an important step, and looks forward
to, when that legislation gets to his desk, signing it and making
that the law of the land.”
“I think that's certainly part of
what he'll discuss Saturday night,” he added.
The bill, which was tucked inside a
must-pass defense bill, was approved by the House Thursday. The
legislation would allow the attorney general to assist cities and
states in the investigation of hate crimes. Representatives passed a
similar bill in 2007, but the bill sank under the weight of a veto
threat from President George Bush. The measure is well supported in
the Senate, where it's headed.
The president's speech comes on the eve
of the National Equality March, a protest expected to draw thousands
of gay activists to the nation's capitol to press lawmakers – and
the president – to back gay rights legislation.