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 U.S. House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, on Wednesday. Similar but weaker legislation had failed two years ago in the face of opposition from President Bush. Before Wednesday’s vote, Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx created a stir by taking issue with the bill’s name, claiming Shepard’s murder in 1998 didn’t constitute a hate crime.