By Miriam Raftery
November 1, 2009 (Washington D.C.) – Last week, President Barack Obama signed a defense budget bill which contains language to broaden the definition of hate crimes to include attacks based on gender, sexual orientation, or disability—adding to protections already in place for attacks based on race, religion or national origin. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act also creates a new federal crime for attacking U.S. military personnel because of their service.
News of the signing was hailed locally by Estela de los Rios, who led efforts to organize a Hate Crimes Conference recently in El Cajon. “I rejoice and embrace this grand victory,” de los Rios told East County Magazine. “Passing this bill will only strengthen and support the civil rights of all.”