House passes Hate Crimes Bill

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A Senate vote is the next step in a long struggle

The Federal hate crime bill known as the Matthew Shepard Act passed the House of Representatives in a 249 to 175 victory for equality. The Wednesday vote may soon add sexual orientation to the list of categories covered under federal hate crime law. However gender identity is not included in this version.

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act would provide local police and sheriff’s departments with federal resources to combat hate violence. Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old college student, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998.

“No one should face violence simply because of who they are,” said Matthew’s mom Judy Shepard. She is the executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.