Despite opposition from conservative groups and even President Bush himself, yesterday the Senate voted 60 to 39 to end debate on the Matthew Shepard Act and the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HR 1592). If approved by the President, who in the past has called the law “unnecessary”, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act will make it easier for law enforcement officials to prosecute those who commit hate crimes, including those motivated by real or perceived sexual identity. It will also enable federal agencies to step in when local ones are unable or unwilling to prosecute these crimes. The act is named after Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in Wyoming nine years ago for being homosexual.
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