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Thursday, May 3, 2007

House Votes to Expand Hate Crime to Homosexuality and Gender

From washingtonpost.com: The House voted Thursday to expand federal hate crime categories to include violent attacks against gays and people targeted because of gender, acting just hours after the White House threatened a veto.

The legislation, passed 237-180, also would make it easier for federal law enforcement to take part in or assist local prosecutions involving bias-motivated attacks. Similar legislation is also moving through the Senate, setting the stage for a possible veto showdown with President Bush.

"This is an important vote of conscience, of a statement of what America is, a society that understands that we accept differences," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the only openly gay man in the House, presided over the chamber as the final vote was taken.

The vote came after fierce lobbying from opposite sides by civil rights groups, who have been pushing for years for added protections against hate crimes, and social conservatives, who say the bill threatens the right to express moral opposition to homosexuality and singles out groups of citizens for special protection.

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