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Senate Votes to Advance Hate Crimes Bill

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rsz_reidshepardAs GLAAD reported yesterday, the Senate took up the issue of hate crimes this week. Late Thursday night the Senate voted 63-28 to end debate on the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Associated Press reports. The act was adopted as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill and broadens hate crimes legislation to include sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disabilities.

The Advocate reports that President Obama, who supports the Matthew Shepard Act, has threatened to veto the Department of Defense authorization bill because of the $1.75 billion in funding for F-22 fighter jets. White House spokesperson Shin Inouye said:

"The President has long supported the hate crimes bill and gave his personal commitment to Judy Shepard that we will enact an inclusive bill. Unfortunately, the President will have to veto the Defense Authorization bill if it includes wasteful spending for additional F-22s…  A Presidential veto would not indicate any change in President Obama’s commitment to seeing the hate crimes bill enacted."

A Senate aide said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is confident that the legislation will pass. The aide said that the vote on the Matthew Shepard Act was good and that “Senator Reid is hopeful that we can keep this language in the final bill.”

The Department of Defense authorization bill could go up for a vote as early as Monday.

GLAAD will continue to monitor media coverage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

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