President Obama has yet to comment on passage of a gay-inclusive hate crimes bill.

On Thursday, senators voted 68 to 29 in favor of expanding hate crimes legislation to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill was tucked inside a must-pass defense bill, a move that rankled some Republicans.

While Obama has pledged to sign the legislation, he has yet to speak on the Senate's actions. Plenty of senators, however, had something to say on the subject.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, called the legislation a “victory.”

“[The bill] will go a long way in deterring crimes against victims targeted solely because of who they are – because of their race, national origin, disability, gender, religion or sexual orientation,” she said in a statement.

In urging lawmakers to support the measure most senators mentioned Matthew Shepard, the Wyoming student killed by two men because he was gay and whose 1998 murder prompted advocates to call for the bill. But Colorado Senator Michael Bennet spoke of a more recent hate crime that occurred in his home state.

In April, a Colorado jury put away the man who killed Angie Zapata, an 18-year-old transgender woman. Zapata was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher by a man she met on the Internet after he discovered she was a biological man.

“The jury's verdict marked Colorado's first-ever conviction for a hate crime against a transgendered person,” Bennet said on the Senate floor Thursday. “This crime was heinous and the attacker will rightfully serve his time because of the laws in my state. Our experience in Colorado, which already has strong hate crimes laws on the books, serves as an example of how to protect the civil rights of all Americans, regardless of where they live.”

“With this bipartisan passage of the Defense Authorization Conference Report today, we will have taken another substantial step forward for our values as Americans,” he said.

Senators Patrick Leahy, Carl Levin and Arlen Specter praised passage of the bill on Friday at a joint conference also attended by Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Joe Solmonese and various other civil rights groups. HRC is the nation's largest advocate for gay rights.

“We're in the home stretch,” Solmonese said. “This critical piece of legislation is on its way to the President's desk for his signature. We look forward to President Obama signing it into law; our nation's first major piece of civil rights legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”'

But on the Senate floor Thursday, most Republicans railed against the measure.

“It is very cynical that this bill that funds our soldiers, who are fighting for our Constitution and our country, actually undermines the very principles that they are fighting for,” South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint said.

“Strictly as a matter of justice, the hate crimes provision in this report is offensive. It suggests that violence committed against certain kinds of victims is worse, more in need of federal intervention and swift justice.”

“This provision will also move our nation a dangerous step closer to another Orwellian concept: thought-crime.”

“The problem, of course, is that politicians are claiming the power to decide which thoughts are criminal and which are not,” he added.

President Obama has spoken at length on the hate crimes bill, pledging at every turn that he's a strong advocate of the legislation.