CAROL E. LEE
Thursday, Oct 29th, 2009
President Barack Obama signed expanded hate crimes legislation into law Wednesday, drawing praise from his attorney general and a tearful response from Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old Wyoming college student who was killed in 1998 because he was gay.
“After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we’ve passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are,” Obama said at an East Room signing ceremony for the legislation, which was part of the 2010 defense appropriations bill.
Obama also lauded the work that the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), whose widow and children were in the audience, did over the years on the hate crimes legislation.
As she left the ceremony, Vicki Kennedy said of her late husband: “I imagine that he’s smiling.”
Attorney General Eric Holder called the new law “the next great civil rights bill.”