The bill also called, Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, passed the house today 249-175, over conservatives’ objections.
Hate crimes — as defined by the bill — are those motivated by prejudice and based on someone’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
A weaker bill died two years ago under a veto threat from President George W. Bush.
President Barack Obama, in contrast, urged support, saying it would “enhance civil rights protections, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association.” Obama called for passage in the Senate, where Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., is the chief sponsor.
The Illinois Family Institute, a conservative Christian group, said, “The bill is not about stopping crime, but about giving sexual preference the same legal status as race. This legislation is just a stepping stone to regulate the speech of people who support family values.”