On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. This act expands federal hate crime protection to include gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.
FBI data suggests that since 1991 there have been more than 118,000 hate crimes reported. In 2007 more than 7,600 were reported, and in the last ten years there have been more than 12,000 reported hate crimes that were based on sexual orientation.
Obama affirmed the importance of this legislation in his remarks at a reception to celebrate the new act, "You understood that we must stand against crimes that are meant not only to break bones, but to break spirits -- not only to inflict harm, but to instill fear. You understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights -- both from unjust laws and violent acts."
View a video of the president's remarks
Read the full text of president's remarks.
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