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Hate Crimes Bill to Become Law

The Matthew Shepard hate crimes bill will at long last become law. Last week, the Senate agreed to final passage of legislation that included the Matthew Shepard hate crime provision, and President Obama is expected to sign it into law. This law will strengthen the ability of federal, state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.

Hate crimes are particularly offensive because they are propelled by bias, ignorance and bigotry. These crimes do not just inflict harm on one victim, but they also instill fear in entire communities. And no person – simply because of who they are – should ever have to live in fear.

Earlier this year, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill. It adds gender, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity to the list of protected categories under federal hate crimes laws. The measure also provides additional federal support to state and local authorities investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.

It has been more than 10 years since the senseless and brutal death of Matthew Shepard, and I look forward to watching President Obama sign this much-needed legislation into law.