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 said Friday.

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.