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Congress acts to extend hate crimes to cover gays
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Congress acts to extend hate crimes to cover gays

House Speaker Pelosi of Calif. takes part in her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington

By JIM ABRAMS
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The House voted Thursday to make it a federal crime to assault people because of their sexual orientation, significantly expanding the hate crimes law enacted in the days after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in 1968.

With expected passage by the Senate, federal prosecutors will for the first time be able to intervene in cases of violence perpetrated against gays.

Civil rights groups and their Democratic allies have been trying for more than a decade to broaden the reach of hate crimes law. This time it appears they will succeed. The measure is attached to a must-pass $680 billion defense policy bill and President Barack Obama - unlike President George W. Bush - is a strong supporter. The House passed the defense bill 281-146, with 15 Democrats and 131 Republicans in opposition.

"It's a very exciting day for us here in the Capitol," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., saying hate crimes legislation was on her agenda when she first entered Congress 22 years ago.

She said it's been 11 years since the gay Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard, whose name was attached to the legislation, was murdered.

full story:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091008/ap_on_go_co/us_gays_hate_crimes

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Congress acts to extend hate crimes to cover gays
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