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Hate-crimes bill
passes in U.S. House

Hate-crimes bill
passes in U.S. House

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act, a long-pending measure that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics covered by the federal hates-crimes statute. The House approved the measure on a 223-199 vote. One hundred ninety-two Democrats voted in favor of the legislation, along with 30 Republicans and one Independent. The majority of Republicans (194) voted with five Democrats to oppose the measure. The vote marks the first time that the U.S. House has approved such a bill.

The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act updates the nation's hate-crimes law to cover crimes that target individuals based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Democratic congressman John Conyers of Michigan introduced the legislation and helped to guide it through final passage as an amendment to the Children's Safety Act of 2005. The act has passed in the Senate before, where it is currently pending again, but was always defeated in the House.

"This legislation will allow the federal government to enhance its law enforcement resources so that it may effectively combat crimes that attempt to terrorize groups of Americans," said Eric Stern, executive director of Stonewall Democrats, a gay political organization. "Current federal law does not give local authorities the tools needed to prosecute crimes targeting individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the global war on terror, Americans should be fully equipped to combat intimidation and fear both abroad and at home."

"Today, thanks to the courageous votes of 223 men and women, the United States House has sent a strong message that LGBT Americans are a valued part of our great country," said Chris Barron, political director for the gay political group Log Cabin Republicans. "We hope that the political courage that Republican House members showed today will be a sign to those in the party who seek to promote a divisive social agenda--your days are numbered. We have always known that history and common decency were on our side, and today's vote proves that." (

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