Actually the Hate Crimes bill was tacked on to the 2009 Defense Appropriations Act, which Obama signed this afternoon, but it's still there, and Obama noted the significance of it:
So today I'm pleased to say that we have proved that change is possible. It may not come quickly, or all at once, but if you push hard enough, it does come eventually.
Now, speaking of that, there is one more long-awaited change contained within this legislation that I'll be talking about a little more later today. After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are. (Applause.)
I promised Judy Shepard, when she saw me in the Oval Office, that this day would come, and I'm glad that she and her husband Dennis could join us for this event. I'm also honored to have the family of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, who fought so hard for this legislation. And Vicki and Patrick, Kara, everybody who's here, I just want you all to know how proud we are of the work that Ted did to help this day — make this day possible. So — and thank you for joining us here today.
The new law strengthens existing U.S. laws by extending federal hate crime protection in cases where the victim was targeted because of their sexual orientation, gender, disability, or gender identity.