On Wednesday, President Obama signed the 2010 defense authorization bill, which included a very important hate crimes provision.  This provision will extend federal hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. 

“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,” Obama said at the White House reception.  He hailed the hate crimes measure as a step toward change to “help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray.”

The bill will allow federal authorities to pursue hate-crimes cases when local authorities are either unable or unwilling to do so.