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House Passes Matthew Shepard Act

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.

Political Intelligence in The Boston Globe:

The House this afternoon passed an expanded hate crimes bill that would protect gay victims, and its chief sponsor in the Senate called for prompt final action.

The measure passed 249-175 over the objections of conservatives, the Associated Press reports.

The bill — named for Matthew Shepard, the gay college student who was beaten to death in Wyoming in 1998 — is a stronger version of a bill that died two years ago under a veto threat from President Bush.

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