Hate crimes bill passes Senate, goes to Obama

Thu. October 22, 2009 12:00 AM by ChicagoPride.com News Staff

President Obama pledges to sign the bill

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate voted 68-29 to approve groundbreaking and historic legislation that will expand the scope of federal hate-crimes law. The legislation is tucked inside a must-pass defense bill, a move that rankled some Republicans.

The legislation is also known as the Matthew Shepard Act. Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming, was killed in 1998 by two men he met in a gay bar. He was beaten and left to die shackled to a post along a rural road near Laramie.

Earlier in the month, members of the House of Representatives approved the legislation with overwhelming support.

The president devoted a good amount of an early October speech to gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to the bill and has pledged to sign the measure.

"In May, I met with Judy Shepard – who's here tonight with her husband – I met her in the Oval Office, and I promised her that we were going to pass an inclusive hate crimes bill – a bill named for her son," he said during the HRC event.

President George W. Bush had threatened to veto a similar measure.

Both Illinois Senators, Richard Durbin (D) and Roland Burris (D) supported the bill.

OnTopMagazine.com contributed to this report.