Eleven years and eleven days after Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, beaten, tied to a fence, and killed for being gay, the hate crimes bill long named for him has finally passed in both houses of Congress.
The vote for the Senate Department of Defense Bill that the it was attached to ended just minutes ago with a final tally of 68-29, with three Senators not voting.
I’m not sure who voted how yet, and all the news is coming from Twitter at this point, but Republican Senators Susan Collins (ME), Richard Lugar (IN), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Olympia Snowe (ME), and George Voinovich (OH) voted for cloture earlier today, and one would assume that they voted with the majority in the final vote.
For more details tonight, check out the links in my sidebar. I won’t be able to update until morning, and there’s a whole lot of information still to be sifted before then.
President Obama has pledged several times to sign the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act if it gets to his desk. We’ll see in the days to come if there is some sort of logistical snafu, but hopefully he’ll sign it without delay. The sooner this law is on the books, the sooner we can walk the streets knowing that someone will give a damn if we’re killed.
Hallelujah. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah.
Quick update from Law Dork on the votes.
[FURTHER UPDATE: The Senate voted on final passage of the Conference Report beginning at 4:40 p.m. It passed on a 68-29 vote, which was announced by Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, who was presiding. Sen. Russ Feingold is the only Democrat to vote no. Republican Sens. Bond, Collins, Cornyn, Ensign, Gregg, Hutchison, Lugar, McCain, Snowe and Voinovich voted yes. Sens. Byrd, Hatch and Murkowski did not vote. The Defense Department Appropriations Reauthorization bill, with the Hate Crimes Prevention Act included, now goes to President Obama for signature.]