Senate hate crimes vote expected this week

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Posted on June 15, 2009 - 11:59am by Anonymous.

Senate hate crimes vote expected this week 
Supporters plan to amend tourism bill

The U.S. Senate is expected to approve hate crimes legislation by Wednesday, according to a Democratic source.

Lawmakers are expected to pass the measure by amending S. 1023, or the Travel Promotion Act, said the source. The bill is geared toward establishing a national travel promotion program to communicate U.S. travel policies and to promote travel to the United States.

"The idea is that that will be an amendment to the tourism bill that's going to be on the floor this week in the Senate, and we're thinking that the vote will happen probably [Tuesday] or Wednesday," said the source.

The hate crimes bill passed the House on April 29, 249-175, as a standalone measure. The legislation would allow the U.S. Justice Department to assist in the prosecution of hate crimes committed against LGBT people that result in death or serious injury.

John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management and the highest-ranking openly gay presidential appointee in history, announced during a speech at D.C.'s Capital Pride on Sunday that the Senate would address hate crimes as early as this week. He also said the Obama administration would soon announce changes regarding inequities faced by LGBT employees in the federal workforce.

More details on the passage of hate crimes legislation are expected later Monday at press conference on Capitol Hill.

Speakers scheduled to attend include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign; Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; and Michael Lieberman, Washington counsel for the Anti-Defamation League, a group that works to stop the defamation of Jewish people.

Sexual orientation-inclusive hate crimes bills have languished in Congress since they were first introduced in 1997. The drive to pass legislation picked up steam after Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, was murdered in 1998 near Laramie, Wyo. In memory of Shepard, versions of federal hate crimes legislation have been sometimes known as the Matthew Shepard Act.

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