Federal Legislation

Hate Crimes Legislation

The Federal Hate Crimes bill has passed and has been signed by President Barack Obama into law.

NCLR supported passage of this key measure, and in particular had been among those who had strongly advocated over the years for a hate crimes bill to protect the entire LGBT community, especially transgender people who are disproportionately targeted for violence.



steps to passage in Congress

In the 111th Congress, Rep. John Conyers introduced the bill in the House of Representatives on April 2, 2009 and Sen. Kennedy introduced a Senate version on April 28, 2009. In the same month, the House of Representatives voted 249 to 175 to add the Hate Crimes Bill, also known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to the 2010 DoD Authorization bill. The bill was then referred to the Senate Judiciary committee, which held a hearing on June 25 and heard testimony from Attorney Genderal Eric Holder on the need to expand the definition of federal hate crimes to cover attacks based on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Read Attorney General Holder’s testimony.

On July 15, 2009, the Senate echoed the House’s decision by passing S.909, which added the Matthew Shepard Act as an amendment in the DoD Authoriization bill. The Senate approved the full defense bill on July 23.

The House and the Senate versions reconciled their versions of the DoD bill in a conference report and renamed the hate crimes provision “The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act” to honor another victim of a hate crime, James Byrd, Jr.

On October 8, 2009 the House of Representatives voted on the conference report on the DoD Authorization bill and passed at 281 to 146. The Senate approved the report, 68 to 29, on October 22, 2009, and on October 28, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law.


take action

Please call the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121 and thank your representative and senators for taking action on this key measure.


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