Senate Passes Matthew Shepard Act

| Thu Sep. 27, 2007 6:38 PM PDT

The U.S. Senate passed the Matthew Shepard Act today. The Act expands federal hate crime laws to include the commission of violent crimes based on the victim's sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, and disability, and provides new resources to help law enforcement prosecute such crimes.

The act passed by a voice vote. Its companion legislation in the House of Representatives is the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which passed the House with a vote of 237 to 180. The legislation is supported by a strong contingent of organizations, including the National Sheriffs Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, the Episcopal Church of the U.S., the League of Women Voters, and the United Methodist Church.

George W. Bush has called the legislation "unnecessary," and is threatening to veto it.

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