Senate sends hate crimes expansion to Obama

People targeted for their gender or sexual orientation will now be covered under the federal law


Alex Koppelman
October 23, 2009 2:23AM (UTC)

The Senate has passed a bill that would, among other things, expand the federal hate crimes law to protect people targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender. It's now headed to President Obama's desk; he's expected to sign it.

Democrats were able to get the measure approved by attaching it to a military spending bill. That essentially forced Republicans to allow passage, though they did put up some pretty strong opposition, and the hate crimes expansion seemed to have stalled after passing through the House earlier this year. Ultimately, the larger bill passed on a 68-29 vote, though a procedural vote beforehand was a little closer, 64-35.

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Conservative opposition to the bill largely focused on a myth, started by House Republicans and eventually quite popular on the right, that the legislation would include protections for pedophiles and, according to Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, people who engage in acts like exhibitionism, necrophilia, urophilia and voyeurism. Some even dubbed it the "Pedophile Protection Act."

The bill, however, does no such thing; the federal definition of "sexual orientation" is limited to consensual heterosexuality and homosexuality.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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