Those who have worked for passage of a new federal hate crime law do not expect many more people to be charged under the measure to be signed today by President Obama, says National Public Radio. The bill, an update to a statute Congress passed in 1968, has been a decade in the making. For the first time, a law that had protected people from attacks motivated by race, religion, or ethnicity will include gay, lesbian, transgender, and disabled people.
“Are there going to be a huge number of prosecutions by the federal government, by the Justice Department, under this statute? No,” says David Stacy of the Human Rights Campaign. State and local officials have always handled the majority of hate crime prosecutions, and that is not expected to change. Under the new law, the federal government can help state and local officials tackle hate crimes by providing federal investigators, forensic tools, and money.