After nearly 10 years of trying, the House passed the "Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act" today.
"The act allows for added charges and harsher jail sentences for those convicted of what is deemed to be a hate crime, a crime against somebody's race, religion, sexual orientation, etc."
Finally a branch of the government I can be proud of, specifically the House of Representatives. As a gay man I am so proud of our "liberal" Congress, especially to Speaker Pelosi who has been working on this cause for many years even before the Matthew Shepard incident in Laramie, WY. Basically what it means is that the federal government can assist in the prosecution of expanded hate crimes where local authorities are unwilling or unable.
The measure was attached to a must-pass $680 billion defense policy bill. Conservatives are whining about its inclusion to the defense bill. I have no sympathy! It's not like they never did the same thing to try to push through their own agendas during the Bush years.
Next up: The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT).