(NEW YORK) PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Jewish Committee applauded President Barack Obama's signing into law of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The Act was passed by the Senate last week.
"By signing this Act into law, President Obama has brought our country to another milestone in the struggle for civil rights, justice and tolerance," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "This Act - named for a gay man brutally murdered because of his sexual orientation and an African-American brutally murdered because of the color of his skin - puts on notice those who would turn their bigotry into violence."
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act expands the definition of federal hate crimes to cover attacks based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and military service. The Act will also enhance the ability of federal authorities to cooperate with state and local authorities in the prosecution of hate crimes.
AJC's Director of National and Legislative Affairs, Richard Foltin, attended a reception at the White House to mark the signing of the Act. AJC has long supported hate crimes prevention legislation and has worked closely with partners in a broad faith-based and civil rights coalition in the effort to enact this bill.