As reported by the Associated Press and the Boston Globe, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1913) passed the House of Representatives Wednesday, 249 - 175. The bill includes bias motivated crimes committed based on the race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability of the victim. According to the Boston Globe, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Masachussetts, who is the Senate's chief sponsor of the bill, issued this statement this afternoon:
"I commend the House for its action to strengthen the inadequate existing federal law on hate crimes. No members of society, none, deserve to be victims of a violent crime because of their race, their religion, their ethnic background, their disability, their gender, their gender identity, or their sexual orientation. It's long past time for Congress to do more to prevent hate crimes and insist that they be fully investigated and prosecuted when they occur. This important legislation is supported by a broad coalition of over 300 law enforcement, civic, religious and civil rights organizations and I look forward to prompt action by the Senate"The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund and the Anti-Defamation Legaue have both issued statements hailing the House's decision. More information will be posted as it is made available.