In a late afternoon ceremony in the historic East Room of the White House, the President made remarks on the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd, Jr. Hates Crimes Prevention Bill which he signed into law several hours earlier. President Obama was joined by Denis and Judy Shepard, as well as Betty Byrd Boatner and Louvon Harris, the sisters of James Byrd, Jr. More on why Byrd's name is on the law at the Dallas Voice.
Obama told the audience: "Over the past 10 years, there were more than 12,000 reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation alone. And we will never know how many incidents were never reported at all." He added: "We will finally add federal protections against crimes based on gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. (Applause.)... Because no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love. No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are."
Hate crime attacks disproportionately target black gay men and black transgender women, who often live in states without hate crime protections. Until now. Once again, it's a great day to be an American.
JUMP to watch the President's full remarks.