Hate Crimes Bill Passes Key Senate Hurdles

On July 24, 2009, the Senate approved S.1390, the Department of
Defense (DoD) Authorization bill, which included the Matthew
Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The Senate had attached
the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act to the DoD
Authorization bill as an amendment previously on July 17, 2009 by a
vote of 63-28. The next step for hate crimes legislation is for the
House and Senate to reconcile their differing versions of the DoD
Authorization bill in conference committee. The House version of
the DoD Authorization bill does not include the hate crimes
legislation, although the House did pass the legislation as a stand
alone bipartisan bill, titled “The Local Law Enforcement Prevention
Act,” in April by a vote of 249-175.

Family Equality Council has been working hard to help pass this
bill, and we are proud to have helped engage our families in
making these exciting victories so far possible. In April, we
mobilized families to contact their Representatives in support of
the House vote on the hate crimes legislation, in addition to
sending our own organizational lobby letters to the
House sharing the family-specific perspective on hate
crimes legislation.

Over the past month, our families stepped up again to speak out
against harassment and violence, urging the Senate to adopt
similar legislation. Our Executive Director, Jennifer
Chrisler,lobbied in support of the Senate legislation and Family
Equality Council joined a letter from a broad-based coalition
opposing unfriendly amendments.

Read Jennifer Chrisler’s letter to Senate
leadership supporting 
the Senate hate crimes
here, and Senator Arlen Specter’s
to our lobbying

The victories thus far in both chambers
demonstrate the impact real stories from real families has on
legislative decisions. Stay tuned as we continue to engage our
families and share their stories as we work to ensure that the
conferees retain the hate crime provisions in the final version of
the DoD Authorization bill that is set to the President for his