Hate crimes bill takes possible step forward


The New York Times reports that in an effort to get legislation expanding federal hate crimes law passed, it will attach it to the "must-pass" defense authorization bill:

The Senate approved the legislation last year, also as part of the military authorization bill, but it was never reconciled with a similar House-passed bill.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said that he would introduce the bill as a bipartisan amendment to the defense authorization measure. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, is also a prime sponsor.

“The hate crimes amendment would improve existing law by making it easier for federal authorities to investigate and prosecute crimes of racial, ethnic, or religious violence,” Mr. Leahy said in a statement. “Victims will no longer have to engage in a narrow range of activities, such as serving as a juror, to be protected under Federal law. It also focuses the attention and resources of the Federal government on the problem of crimes committed against people because of their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability, which is a long-overdue protection. In addition, the hate crimes amendment will provide assistance and resources to state, local, and tribal law enforcement to address hate crimes.”

The House passed a similar measure earlier this year. Supporters of the legislation, including a number of Jewish groups, have been working to pass the bill for about a decade.

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