The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill that would broaden the definition of federal hate crimes to include attacks based on sexual orientation, reports the Associated Press. The legislation that would bring major changes to a law enacted after the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Civil rights groups have come close to expanding the hate crimes bill several times in the past decade, but have always fallen short because of lack of House-Senate coordination or opposition from former President George W. Bush. This time they may succeed. The bill was attached to a must-pass $680 billion defense policy bill that the Senate could approve as early as next week. President Obama, unlike his predecessor, has promised to sign it into law. “The inclusion of ‘thought crimes’ legislation in what is otherwise a bipartisan bill for troop funding is an absolute disgrace,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), head of the GOP conservative caucus.