Senate Votes in Favor of Expanded Hate-Crime Measure
Posted on Oct 22, 2009
President Barack Obama represents the final stop for a measure, passed by the Senate on Thursday, that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include “those committed because of a victim’s gender or gender identity, sexual orientation or disability,” as The New York Times put it. Obama is expected to approve the legislation.
The New York Times:
Supporters of the legislation argued that it would deter those tempted to attack people out of bigotry, and that extra protections for those victimized because of their sexuality were needed because such crimes have been on the rise.
Opponents argued to no avail that the new measure was unnecessary in view of existing laws and might interfere with local law enforcement agencies. Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said he agreed that hate crimes were terrible. “That’s why they are already illegal,” he said, asserting that the new law was a dangerous, even “Orwellian” step toward “thought crime.”
The brutal killing of gay Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard (pictured) 11 years ago sparked a concentrated push for the kind of hate-crime legislation the Senate passed Thursday.