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Senate Approves Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act 68-29


The Senate today passed a historic expansion of federal hate crimes statutes to include sexual orientation. The chamber voted to approve the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (also known as the Matthew Shepard Act) by a vote of 68-29, sending the first civil rights legislation protecting gays and lesbians to President Obama for his signature. The bill was attached to a Defense Department appropriations bill.

WaPo: "The legislation, which was attached to the conference report for the bill outlining the Pentagon's budget, marks the culmination of a years-long fight by civil-rights groups to codify the expanded protections. The law broadens the current definition of federal hate crimes -- which covers attacks motivated by race, color, religion or national origin -- to include those based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It would also create a new federal crime to cover attacks against U.S. military personnel because of their service."

Earlier in the day the chamber took a cloture vote (to end debate and filibuster) of 64-35 to move the bill forward.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation released a statement regarding passage of this historic bill. Read it, AFTER THE JUMP...


October 22, 2009

Today, the United States Senate took an historic step toward ensuring justice for the victims of hate crimes targeted for violence due to their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.

"Dennis and I are extremely proud of the Senate for once again passing this historic measure of protection for victims of these brutal crimes,” said Judy Shepard, president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board. “Knowing that the president will sign it, unlike his predecessor, has made all the hard work this year to pass it worthwhile. Hate crimes continue to affect far too many Americans who are simply trying to live their lives honestly, and they need to know that their government will protect them from violence, and provide appropriate justice for victims and their families."

By voting overwhelmingly to extend to these often-targeted Americans our nation’s decades-old bias crime legislation, senators sent the message that hate crimes will not go unpunished, and local governments and law enforcement agencies will not run out of financial resources to provide justice to these victims and their loved ones.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act was attached earlier this year to the annual Defense Department spending bill, and Thursday’s 68-29 Senate vote to approve the final House-Senate compromise on the defense bill now sends this important law enforcement provision to President Obama, who has vowed to sign it.

Under the legislation, federal prosecutors could step in to try violent hate-crime cases if local authorities cannot or will not secure an appropriate conviction. It also opens up federal funding for law enforcement to handle the typically high cost of investigation and judicial proceedings in such cases, and would make grants available for training and prevention programs at the local level.

The act is named to honor Matthew Shepard as well as James Byrd, an African-American resident of Texas brutally dragged to death in 1998 in a notorious hate crime. Matthew’s parents Dennis and Judy Shepard have campaigned for the legislation’s passage for more than a decade since their son’s murder in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998 in an anti-gay hate crime.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation applauds Congress and President Obama for their steady and successful efforts throughout 2009 to bring the legislation to this point. We eagerly anticipate its final enactment and wish to thank the countless organizations and individuals who have worked tirelessly for its passage.

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  1. the "I"s have it.

    Posted by: The Realist | Oct 22, 2009 12:18:11 PM

  2. Well, it's about time!
    This is very promising news indeed. Not just for today, but for time to come.

    Posted by: Bayley | Oct 22, 2009 1:20:14 PM

  3. CQ is reporting that it'll be sent to the president by the end of the day. But he'll probably hold onto it until next week, so that Judy Shepard and other family members can fly into Washington to attend the signing.

    Posted by: John | Oct 22, 2009 2:50:34 PM

  4. Next they'll vote to allow the races to marry, you mark my words.

    Posted by: elcamino | Oct 22, 2009 5:22:12 PM

  5. Pretty damned good birthday party.

    Posted by: Sam Gillespie | Oct 22, 2009 5:24:34 PM

  6. Well, Woo Hoo!!!

    Perhaps it is okay to hope again.

    Now for ENDA and repealing DADT.

    Posted by: Darren | Oct 22, 2009 5:28:32 PM

  7. Truly an historic day. Thank you Senators!

    Posted by: JeffRob | Oct 22, 2009 5:31:51 PM

  8. Let the barrage of promises delivered begin!

    Posted by: Scott B. | Oct 22, 2009 5:39:25 PM

  9. Let me guess the 35 that voted "no" were REPUBLICANS???

    Posted by: Tralfaz | Oct 22, 2009 5:43:04 PM

  10. That's great. Except for the part about 29 high ranking officials who just don't get it.

    Posted by: JimmyD | Oct 22, 2009 5:43:13 PM

  11. The next sound you hear will be Andrew Sullivan having a temper tantrum.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Oct 22, 2009 5:43:25 PM

  12. Hooray! Now to pass ENDA and repeal DADT and DOMA...

    But still, a day (and a victory) to savor! A sincere “Thank You!” to all who voted “yes”.

    Posted by: ichabod | Oct 22, 2009 5:48:37 PM

  13. Didn't Obama say he would veto the Defense Department appropriations bill? Why do I remember a report of him saying he wouldn't sign this bill?

    Posted by: James | Oct 22, 2009 5:50:11 PM

  14. James he said he would veto a bill if funding for an un-needed expensive military plane (I believe) was included ... it was scraped.

    This is a done deal !!

    It took over 10 years but it is done!

    OBAMA - Change I can believe in !

    BTW --- McCain said he would VETO any bill that came to his desk with hate crime protection for gay people. The GOP is EVIL.
    So evil DEMOCRATS fund Log Cabin.

    Posted by: RJP3 | Oct 22, 2009 5:59:41 PM

  15. One. Word. .....FINALLY!!!

    Posted by: Sam | Oct 22, 2009 6:03:19 PM

  16. An historic moment!

    Posted by: Mark | Oct 22, 2009 6:09:16 PM

  17. hey andy....
    in the midst of things -- contrived and real -- it's amazing that more gay men haven't stepped up to the plate. after years in working with some of the most stupid people i've ever had in my life -- people want me to have patience. since they can't step up to the plate and help with something as basic as shoulder assistance -- truly, i can say that i've never, ever, never worked with people so incredibly stupid -- the pinnacle in ignorance and sheer morons. this is good news, yet, considering that employees at the Abbey in west hollywood embrace hateful ventures -- please take note of the odd sources for such just the same. few, not many, people have made efforts when you consider the population of particular subcultures -- hands down, quote me -- 'the MOST stupid' people EVER without a doubt and when i encountered that vapidity at the Abbey -- i was left pondering, BEST gay bar in the world -- JOKE and pathetic consideration, yet, when you've got young faggots who don't even recognize how much of their culture was decimated by AIDS -- is it surprising??

    Posted by: ricardo | Oct 22, 2009 6:09:27 PM

  18. I'll be having a beer for Matthew and Judy tonight.

    Posted by: James | Oct 22, 2009 6:12:39 PM

  19. Ah, Ricardo.

    As delightfully off topic and incomprehensible as ever.

    Posted by: 24play | Oct 22, 2009 6:20:03 PM

  20. "But the inclusion of the hate crimes provision in the defense bill came to the consternation of some Republican senators, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), who on the Senate floor called the inclusion of the provision an “abuse of the Senate process.”"

    Take that, log cabinites!

    And it was introduced in the Senate by Patrick Leahy (D-VT)


    Posted by: KevinVT | Oct 22, 2009 6:27:43 PM

  21. Uh, Ricardo what in the living FUCK does the Abbey in WeHo have to do with this? Are you on crack?

    Posted by: Tralfaz | Oct 22, 2009 6:32:23 PM

  22. Will somebody please tell WTF "shoulder assistance" means? I'm really worried about Ricardo's shoulder!

    Posted by: crispy | Oct 22, 2009 6:40:13 PM

  23. Hooray!

    And Brava to Judy Shepard who turned her grief into a crusade to prevent other mothers from getting the same call.

    In my heart I kneel down.....

    Posted by: Michael @ | Oct 22, 2009 6:51:28 PM

  24. Very encouraging news, far too long coming, and an example of the real difference between the parties. Let's hope the Democrats will continue to do the right thing while they have the power to make a difference.

    And a big hug to Judy Shepard for her tireless advocacy.

    P.S. Ricardo, you should really try a different translation program.

    Posted by: Ernie | Oct 22, 2009 6:59:23 PM

  25. I think Ricardo wants a shoulder to cry on because of all the confused looks he gets whenever he tries to form a sentence.

    Posted by: Paul R | Oct 22, 2009 7:12:56 PM

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